I have been a fan of Kevin’s music since around 2001, when I saw him perform with the all male a cappella quartet, Four Shadow and have followed his solo career almost since it began in 2007. Pre-Existing Condition shows growth from Kevin’s first solo album, Things to Keep in Mind While Balancing. While I loved TTKIMWB, there were a few songs that seemed overdone and unnecessarily cluttered, almost parodies of themselves. PEC avoids this nearly entirely, although there is one couple of sections of Just in Time that still go a bit too dramatic for my taste and extend about a beat longer than necessary. Then again, my taste leans towards live albums and demos because of their simplicity and rawness. As Kevin said, this does feel more like a live album but I’d add that there is a bit of polish and just a few embellishments. It’s more refined and less cluttered while at the same time, more approachable and authentic. One thing I have always loved about Kevin’s music is the the pure unadorned quality of his voice and it is represented well in every song. The album versions of Love Always Wins and Nothing Like the Sun add upon the live, keeping the sound fresh, while retaining the best aspects of what came before.
Highlights/My favorite songs:
- Moonlight Navigators is the perfect opening track. The first lines, “You might be right, I wasn’t born to fly. But excuse me if I try anyway” are isolated over sparse accompaniment that builds layers over the next 90 seconds sets the tone for an album that doesn’t grab you, it lures you in slowly and takes up residence in your memory.
- Understanding Eyes is a refreshing reminder of the kind of songs Kevin wrote for Four Shadow. In particular, Summer Sunday from their last studio album, Four. It has one of the faster, stronger beats, though not to the extent where it doesn’t belong.
- Strait of Georgia: I first listened to this album on a 3 hour bus ride and kept coming back to this because its beat perfectly matched the rhythm of the road. It is a great road trip song. Kevin’s subtle and poetic lyrics require multiple listens to gain their full effect and will stick with you for weeks.
- Wish was the single and one of the best tracks from TTKIMWB. This version adds a little more instrumentation and vocals by Linnea Mohn but is otherwise largely unchanged and still great.