Mark Kozelek doesn’t write folk songs, he weaves them. From his earlier fronting of the slowcore founders the Red House Painters twenty years ago, to his more recent critically acclaimed incarnation as Sun Kil Moon, Kozelek has made a career from quietly building genre-spanning epics and constructing fables from imagistic lyrics. While he’s been compared to Neil Young in the past for his falsetto and psychedelic take on folk, where Kozelek diverges is the sense of place and autobiography he invests into every song. “Environment inspires me,” Kozelek said in an interview with the website Identity Theory. “It’s the background to a lot of my songs.” This sense of environment, of a gradually cultivated atmosphere, permeates many of his tracks. Characters like Katy and Michael reappear from album to album, as if his total work is an extended roman à clef. Nine-minute epics like “Lost Verses” craft grandeur out of what begins simply as Kozelek’s strummed guitar. Nowhere is Kozelek’s penchant for constructing sonic atmospheres more clear than his most recent release, “Admiral Fell Promises,” where he takes the minimalist’s route, honing his songwriting down to ten tracks of him alone with his nylon-string guitar. Some of the grandeur is lost, but the remarkably vibrant details of his lyrics and finger picking shine through. (Michael Gillis)
July 8 at Lincoln Hall, 2424 North Lincoln, 9pm. $20.