[DYLAN OF THE DIVE] You can take a man out of Shreveport, but whatever's in the water there tends to stick. The Louisiana town is the birthplace of Lead Belly and helped nurture Jerry Lee Lewis, and it's also where troubadour songwriter Kyle Craft started out. Now he's settled in Portland, where he realized his first full album, Dolls of Highland. But while Craft may have left his hometown, he brought some of that spunky bayou spirit with him. The record gives the traditional breakup song a Dylanish parlor-room treatment, thanks to familiar guitar hooks and lively piano riffs. Craft's monstrous delivery is that of a true frontman—slightly glammy and theatrical. It's a voice capable of crushing everything in its path, including, in certain instances, his bandmates—perhaps his only liability. Mainly, it's the rattled howling of someone who's seen a million truths, set to jangly, chest-beating, after-midnight folk rock. There's the melancholy, accordion-adorned ballad "Lady of the Ark" and country-inspired "Jane Beat the Reaper." Meanwhile, raucous and timeless "Future Midcity Massacre" sounds like something that would have exploded minds during a prominent 1960s folk festival. There's a daydreaming, nomadic feel to Dolls of Highland that's probably a reflection of Craft's own experience. Hopefully he's here to stay.
SEE IT: Kyle Craft plays Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St., with Máscaras and Animal Eyes, on Friday, April 29. 8 pm. $10 advance, $12 day of show. 21+.