Joe Kissell's debut CD release 'LITTLE BOX' is a deceptive piece of work. On the surface, you hear a gentle voice with light acoustic arrangements. But as yo listen more closely, you begin to hear the depth in the lyrics and the passion in the song. With 'LITTLE BOX' Kissell emerges from the fertile Fort Collins (CO) music scene with a distinctive sound and strong original material. 'LITTLE BOX' was recorded at Kiva Records in Ft. Collins and features a full line-up of musical guests including Beth Mosko on violin and harmony, Kirsten Bolton with vocals and harmonies, Russ Hopkins on guitar and percussion, bassists Brian Ellison and Bill Cowhick. Also making appearances are Jeff Hoffman on guitar, Jerry Palmer on keyboard synth on 'River' and David Green with banjo on 'Heart Likle a Boat.' 'LITTLE BOX' features 14 tracks of earthy acoustic based songs that cover social and political issues, love of the envrionment and a life-affirming attitude. A passion for the environment, for example, is very clear in songs like the opening track 'River' where the flow of water mirrors the flow of life. The album also ends with a song about a river 'Empty My Pockets.' Imagery of mountain trails, summer storms and faithful dogs fill the world of Kissell's songs. Like both Bob Dylan and Bruce Cockburn, Kissell is not afraid to use his music to speak his mind. He is not willing to step back when the subject is something he feels strongly about. The political statements on songs such as 'Hail to Old Glory' and 'Guns' are vold and challenging. 'Hail to Old Glory' calls attention to the darker parts of American history while 'Guns' takes no middle ground- Kissell states they should all be melted down. But more than politics, Kissell's songwriting also reflects his values for living. That includes writing about relationships and love- and about the simple art of living. 'Time Does Not Last' takes a wistful look at the cycles of human life while 'Looking at the Stars' tries to put that life into perspective with the rest of the universe. 'Heart Like a Boat' recounts the breakup of a relationship while 'Every Time' is about the warmth of a relationship. Despite all the ideas and words, the music itself remains thge most important element to 'LITTLE BOX.' 'Pleasant Ride' is a light energetic piece that celebrates 'that beautiful side.' 'Don't Forget the Action,' on the other hand, moves with a funky, organic acoustic groove that's hard to get out of your head. This is American roots music that thrives with honesty and life-affirming passion. 'LITTLE BOX' is a creative triumph for an artist who truly believes it's not about fame or fortune, but about human creativity and freedom. Authentic, heartfelt music is the result. From review in Riff Music Magazine by Tim Van Schmidt.
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