It’s been a while since I’ve found a US singer songwriter album that has really gripped me. So, it’s with some trepidation that I pop Fade into the Dawn the latest album from Kevin Patrick, the lo-fi bedroom folk artist better known as Field Medic on to the turntable for a listen.
My first impressions after a few listens of this album are, this is an intensely personal and brutally honest album. Kevin sings about his truths, his life and his battles both internal and external.
He is impossible to pin down to a particular style. His magpie like song writing borrows from so many influences that to say Field Medic “sounds like so and so” is simply impossible. He sounds like Field Medic, his own voice rising through each song to claim it as his own whilst surrendering it wholly to the listener.
Side A opens with ‘Used 2 Be a Romantic’. It’s a song anyone who’s played any open mic night can relate to. “I need a cigarette, those fuckers talked over my whole set” is how he chooses to introduce us to these songs. This wry humour pops up throughout the album and is never unwelcome.
‘I was wrong’ is next and switches styles from acoustic balladry to bluegrass style country. It isn’t a jarring jump either. Feels really natural. My favourite line in this one is “but one day I’m a gonna have me a calico, kitty named Joni after my hero”. Anyone who references Joni Mitchell in a song has already won me over.
We drop the pace down for my album highlight ‘The Bottles My Lover, She’s Just My Friend’. An unwieldly and contradictory title which I’m still wrestling with. Where do I begin with this track? This song could easily have been written and performed by Neil Young. It’s that good. It tackles Kevin’s attempt to give up drinking only to return to it halfway through a particularly gruelling run of shows. This is him at his most raw and honest. Laying it all out there in the grooves of the record.
The single ‘Henna Tattoo’ follows and has really upbeat Bon Iver kinda vibe. Singing about a doomed relationship he explores his jealousy and regret using the fading henna tattoo as an allegory with pinpoint precision. This is simple song writing but at another level.
‘Hello Moon’ closes the side in deep dark self-loathing. You can almost hear the anxiety and doubt in his voice when he sings “can’t go back” at the end.
Phew! Side A was an emotional rollercoaster. Let’s hang on tight and flip the record and see what side B has to offer.
‘Tournament Horseshoe’ is our first glimpse of light on this album. The song leaps along with utter joy in every line. Stylistically it reminds me of very early Tallest man on Earth but, as he has done throughout this album, he has made it all his own style.
After that moment in the sun we plunge headlong into the depths of our writers most terrifying thoughts. On ‘songs r worthless now’ we contemplate how he would behave when faced with the end. It could be the end of a relationship, job, tour, we don’t know but it is painted in an apocalyptic light in this two-minute voyage into despair.
Returning to love next on ‘Mood Ring Baby’ Kevin sings to his true love of the distance between them, both emotionally and physically. The refrain “hey I love you always” is heartbreakingly beautiful as it seems this is an unrequited love.
‘Everydayz 2moro’ is a totally different kind of love song. Here he tells about the reality of being a working singer songwriter, being on constant tour, not having a home, daytime drinking but even with all that she is there for him. His constant.
The album closes with the beautiful ‘helps me forget’ and ode to the bottle and its effects on his mind, life and relationships. You can feel the aching and regret in every line.
Kevin has said “Any song that’s true is a good song in my mind”. When there is this much truth, so much raw, brutal, emotional honesty in a recording then it goes way beyond good. This is a great album, a great record of this writer’s life at this moment. More than that, it will stand the test of time and remain great for many years to come.
Fade into the Dawn is out now on Run for Cover and available from all the usual outlets.