Kyle Craft, Full Circle Nightmare (Sub Pop)
[BYGONE ROCK] Since releasing his promising debut two years ago, Kyle Craft has stayed busy. He created an ode to iconic female musicians like Cher and Patsy Cline with the covers project Girl Crazy. He dropped "Before the Wall," a poignant anti-Trump single—one of the alarmingly few indie musicians to do so. Now comes Full Circle Nightmare, a record that cements the Portland-via-Louisiana transplant as a true frontman with uncanny classic rock sensibilities. Far from a reinvention, his second full-length album of original material feels more like settling in. It offers an at-home feel, wherein Craft is both immensely comfortable with his fiery lyrics and his band's bluesy, near-Baptist rock'n'roll sound. Perhaps that's no surprise. Full Circle Nightmare is baldly autobiographical, an effort Craft himself has described as offering a sense of closure. His first real project in a proper studio, the record is noticeably crisper than 2016's Dolls of Highland, without shedding the unruly Southern-rock guitar and stained-glass-window-shattering keys. The rowdy "Heartbreak Junky" sounds like an early Dylan song hijacked by Stillwater, while "Bridge City Rose" is fit for closing time at a heartland bar. Craft is still a sucker for acoustic slow-swellers that have you reaching for your Zippo—see "Slick and Delta Queen"—but his storytelling overshadows any nostalgic kitsch. Full Circle Nightmare suggests that the bet Sub Pop placed on Craft a few years back is paying off in full.
SEE IT: Kyle Craft plays Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St., with the Shivas and Ghost Foot, on Friday, Feb. 2. $15. 9 pm. 21+. Get tickets here.