Not often does a recording artist release an album that is quite unique taking listeners on a journey, through the good and bad times and letting people take a look at themselves instead of judging others or even themselves. This is Kelley Hunt, with her sixth album entitled The Beautiful Bones.
It’s with the The Beautiful Bones she connects with her songs throughout the album. Her message is clear and simple, as she sings with her eclectic voice while playing some pretty good “blues licks” on her keyboard as well. Her singing roots were people like Aretha Franklin, Dinah Washington, Mahalia Jackson and Ann Peebles while giving credit of her keyboard style to Jay McShann and Professor Longhair. I also better not forget her grandmother, another big influence on Kelley, who traveled singing gospel music. Kelley’s gospel sound resonates throughout this album. She is like a melting pot, mixing various singing and playing styles into music of truth and hope. To add to her talents, she even co-produced the album with Al Berman as well. Surrounding herself with group of musicians she has worked with in the past has helped with the making of this album The Beautiful Bones, which is somewhat of a sequel to past works. This is quite an album. I caution anyone who listens to The Beautiful Bones. This album will challenge you as you listen to it.
Someone once said, “you can do a lot of things that seem to make time stand still, but of course no one can do that.” So goes it with Kelley’s album opener, “This Time.” “This Time” makes one realize that “time” does not stand still. This is an album opener that looks like she was saving the best for first. I really like this piece. She has a lot to sing about here. I especially like the opening lines, “This time wraps around you.” “This time can set you free.” It seems to be she is looking at “This Time” as the very thing that can holds us down, but the very thing that can set one free. Many can relate to this tune as many procrastinate, not living their dreams. She even tells everyone to stop listening to fatalistic remarks, and do nothing but “play for time.” Kelley’s words are simple and straight forward saying, “Why are you still waiting for your real life to begin.” “Why let somebody tell you your life is not worth your dream.” It’s as if she is saying our dreams are nothing but unspoken fairy tales, but her message is clear that our dreams could be the very thing that can bring us to life. As she continues with the song, she hits us again. We have so many “diversions” keeping us from realizing our value. Here, I have to interpret the word, “diversions,” as nothing more than “submarine excuses.” The bottom line is “This Time,” is our time, removing barriers or “the curtain” allowing us to see all the possibilities and giving us “direction home.” “This Time” also is a nice piece musically to backup her hard-hitting lyrics. Kelley’s keyboard playing toward the end goes very well with the driving beat. As stated, it is a great piece to begin the album.
Another tune that Kelley did with such emotion was “Let It Rain.” I can’t say a lot about this number, but I can tell you it is a very powerful well-written piece. “You felt broken and all alone.” “You think you have nothing, nothing to give.” “Be everything you were meant to be.” In trying to read between the lines a bit, it seems she is telling people not to let all the hurt, pain, and failures define them, while giving to others will be the very thing that can heal, and turn the negative “rain” into strength and power. Listening to this number several times and being a history buff, I could not help but think of the Holocaust survivors. I think Kelley is telling her audience that when you can’t change the situation, you have the power to change yourself. It is clear Kelley likes music with a message. “Let It Rain” is a message of hope by “Passing it on, pay it forward” and “Let It Rain.”
Then there is “Beautiful Bones,” the album title. This piece is nothing but “beautiful.” The song deals with taking shelter and comfort, while understanding our roots. If I can steal from another song, “The Beautiful Bones” gave me “a peaceful easy feeling.” However, I have to say this writer has painted himself in a corner on occasion, but I can’t help but reflect on Kelley’s album title. I read where she wrote this piece while in her home on a snowy day noticing a tree with its “barren branches.” In examining the tree on the CD cover and seeing the illusion of emptiness about it, we fail to realize some things Kelley might be communicating to her listeners. Kelley’s tree, with its empty branches, has some beautiful nutritious roots or “bones” buried. It’s those roots that produce beautiful foliage or fruit. I read where Kelley thought of “The Beautiful Bones” in different ways, but included one’s relationship with one’s self. When we peel back the layers like an onion, eventually we come to the same place, having nothing but our roots, our bones, and the relationship we have within. “What are we left with when we cannot find our way?” “Beneath everything that’s always been here.” I feel what Kelley is saying, that a caring relationship with one’s self is critical. This is the place we all can go to take shelter, comfort and have the peace of mind knowing “We have the beautiful bones as a place of peace”. Once again, I have to say that Kelley’s “The Beautiful Bones,” is message of hope. If Bob Dylan wrote “finger pointing” songs in his day, then Kelley has given fans many soul-searching songs the in here and now.
In saying that, Kelley concludes with the number, “The Sweet Goodbye.” This is a nicely well done piece ideal for the final track. The song ends with an ending. I love the sweet gospel sound with Kelley’s keyboard on “The Sweet Goodbye.” It is spot on perfect for a “goodbye” song. As you listen to the guitars, you get a feeling of sadness, but it soon follows with a feeling of hope as Kelley takes it up a step giving her listeners a sense of relief singing “No regrets or alibis.” “It must be time for the sweet goodbye.” As with many relationships, it’s time to cut ties and “dust the broom.” For Kelley, she is singing “The Sweet Goodbye” with a sense of closure. “I look around me with a quiet mind.” “No longer waiting for that old reply.” I have to say, Kelley’s writing as well as her co-writers wrote nothing but perfection on this number. They seem to fit so well with her music. Her songwriting is exceptional.
The Beautiful Bones is in this writer’s opinion, a beautiful work of art. Her work has all the ingredients. There is self-revealing hope. There is sorrow mixed with affliction. There is a message of appreciating one’s self while giving anecdotes of perseverance and dreams as she takes you on her spiritual path throughout the album. This is an album that you will also enjoy musically with her impressive keyboard and great back-up musicians while giving us professional excellence with her lyrics. There might be times you may want to laugh, while other times you may want to cry. Regardless, it is clear Kelley has made a sincere attempt tapping into our emotions and possibly even her own. I highly recommend this album. It is an album you will want to hear over and over discovering something new each time.
This is Kelley Hunt, as she sings with her Beautiful Bones.