When I sat down to write this review I wasn’t aware that Kevin Seconds’ had released a ton of solo albums. That goes to show how much I don’t keep up with punk frontmen and their solo releases. I find these things are hit and miss with a decent amount of miss going on but then there are guys like Tim Barry and Chuck Ragan totally killing it so you really never know what you’re going to get. Off Stockton is in the vein we’ve come to expect from this subset of singer/songwriters in that it’s acoustic, stripped down, and almost twangy. However it doesn’t sound like Kevin took punk songs and tried to make acoustic numbers out of them. While that’s cool sometimes it gets old pretty quick. You can tell that these songs were written to be played like he’s playing them on this album and that’s what makes it as good as it is.
The tracks average just over two minutes in length with only two songs breaking the three minute mark but that doesn’t take anything away from their intensity, in fact, that’s part of its charm. While I said it doesn’t sound like an acoustic punk album that mentality is very visible in the writing and song length. It’s also a very personal album in that he’s telling us his story with his wife, Allyson Seconds, providing back up vocals and harmony. Shake all this together with the studio fuck-ups Kevin leaves on his work and you have an album that’s actually pretty touching in some places. While the struggles are there this isn’t a downer of an album at all. This is an album full of short and intense slices of life from Kevin’s perspective and overall he’s a pretty optimistic guy and occasionally that’s just what you need from your music.
I’ve spent a bit of time today listening to his other releases for some perspective and they are darker and moodier than Off Stockton. I am not sure what happened in between releases but it seems like this was written from a better personal place than the others. For me to consider an album without a single song about drinking Essential Listening feels a little strange but this really is just that. It’s not an alone-in-the-dark-drinking-bad-whiskey album but rather a sitting-on-the-porch-in-the-rain-with-your-best-girl album. It’s not one that’ll get you laid because it’s so sexy but it’d sure make good background music for a porch swing in the fall as the weather is getting a little chilly.