On his sophomore effort, Ally Kerr delivers twelve smart, straight-ahead tracks which showcase both his gift for pleasing melodies and his comfort with a variety of tempos and textures. On Off the Radar, the Scotsman mixes the retro pop feel of a Ben Kweller with the melodic ease of forerunners like Neil Finn or Squeeze. Kerr’s best tracks are radio-friendly yet possess a certain self-deprecating charm that would appeal to fans of independent, literary pop/rock; Kerr can cast himself as the underdog while sounding like an established artist and for the majority of the record, it works.
Standout moments include the bouncy, quirky opening cut “Could Have Been a Contender”, the marriage of chugging guitars and subtle melody on the title track and the 1-2 punch of “Amorino” and “The Truth That I Have Earned”, two cuts which come late in the record. The former is an acoustic ballad which contains Kerr’s prettiest melody, a tune which just glides; the latter is a mid-tempo folk rocker with a solid groove.
Kerr is most triumphant when he plays it cool; occasionally, he overreaches in the lyrical department, stumbling through phrases which seem try to be just a bit too clever. Overall, the album is consistently solid and on its best moments, is something to truly be enjoyed.
// Notes from the Road
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