Pensive, meditative, isolating, melodically affecting. Some descriptors that come to mind when thinking of Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster’s debut solo album, Constant Stranger. It’s a great album for the autumn weeks ahead as we begin the slow, reluctant march toward winter. It would provide a perfect soundtrack for the long drive back to a small apartment in the city after a Thanksgiving Day spent gorging on too much food and alcohol at the family farm. Regrets you didn’t know you had envelop you, light rain briefly turns to the first snow of the year and tears well up in your eyes, blurring the road as you face down a darkness that has come too soon, literally and figuratively.
While feeling sorry for one’s self and listening to melancholic music can be a necessary, albeit selfish comfort at times, this record delivers much more than that and can be enjoyed anywhere, not just on a lonely commute home. From the metaphorically reassuring lyric, “I know what I’ve been told, there’s a bend in every road, that will send you where you’re truly meant to travel,” from Laid Low to the beautifully finger picked melody of False Dawn, to Half Broke, an emotionally stirring song about the importance of family, there are moments of veritable bliss on this record.
This album stands tall with anything Justin’s band the Water Liars have done and that’s no easy achievement. This young Mississippian knows how to craft a melody and for my money, is one of the best lyricists working which is no surprise considering his literary heroes. A great start to a solo career we can only hope lasts a long time.
Whose Will Be Done