If you want to listen to middle-of-the-road music with nice production values that seldom really takes you anywhere, it’s OK to stop by the local Wal-Mart and buy some top-10 songs produced by a major label in a fancy studio. If you want to take a chance on something new, turn to somebody local like Kelly. That’s it, just Kelly. His first name is Stephen, but he doesn’t use it professionally.
Kelly recorded this 25-minute, acoustic, ballad rock c.d. in one day in his Glue Factory studio in Arlington, playing acoustic guitar and harmonica. Under Blue Water sways more than it rocks, but its songs are simple, sincere, and original. “Dear Jane,” a soldier’s letter to his girl, comes closest to any of the nine songs to being commercial. There’s “Jenny’s Eyes,” a celebration of spending innocent time with either his daughter or a lover; it’s hard to say, but in a good way.
Then there are “Don’t Look Now,” a tale of paranoia in a world of shadows and hidden mics and 20 Questions, followed by “Monsters in the Closet,” in which Kelly’s character wants to rest his weary head but fears the creatures that come out late at night to take a bite out of you and me. You don’t find that kind of lyrical freedom in the discount store bins.