- Dave Kleh, Speaking in Logistics
(Self-released, CD, digital)
It would be so easy to dismiss Dave Kleh with a simple "OK, boomer." The quirky singer-songwriter was indeed born in the baby boom that followed World War II. And he clearly has a lot of deep-seated opinions about the world. Kleh boldly proclaims them within some of the strangest music made in Vermont, all of which he records with few additional musicians at his robust home studio. But diminishing his oeuvre with Gen Z's favorite flippant catchphrase is ultimately lazy, because Kleh is genuinely fascinating.
A real estate agent by day and prolific recording artist by night, Kleh is influenced by three great decades of music: the '60s, '70s and '80s. Musically, his stuff actually isn't so weird; he's pretty straightforward in his takes on psych- and folk-rock, blues, and occasionally country. But combined with his diatribes, Kleh's work crystallizes into a puzzling genre I'll call rant-rock.
On his latest album, Speaking in Logistics, every lick, fill and chord progression exists to support Kleh's stream-of-consciousness lyrics, the central feature of his compositions. This is a departure from his 2019 album, the ludicrously titled Love Is Greater Than Infinity Divided by Zero, which was mostly composed of sweet love songs. Actually, maybe that album was the departure, and Kleh is back to basics on Speaking in Logistics.
He's at his OK-boomer-est on tracks such as the 11-and-a-half-minute "So Sad to See the Old Man Goin' Down": "Evolving from apes to apes with smartphones / Looking more like apes every day / With vaping taking the place of cigarettes / It's quicker that way," Kleh rambles over a kinetic, harmonica-laden construction of Western-tinged rock. Surely there are better things to take aim at — and Kleh does, turning toward structures of tyranny later on.
"Just Bill Me" is an existential exploration wrapped in straight blues, featuring some sizzling work from guitarist Bill Mullins. Kleh is mildly aghast at where he's at in life: "I still believe I am 19 in my mind / But I can't fool my body," he laments.
Kleh is strongest when he embraces a more melodic approach, rather than the Sprechgesang style he mostly employs throughout Speaking in Logistics. The closing track, "Winds of Change," is a sleek take on new-wave pop during which we finally hear Kleh sing in earnest. Koto synth and wavy guitars create a nice cooldown at the end of a record that burns hot with opinion.
Kleh is cyclical about releasing music: He puts out a new record every year without fail. Speaking in Logistics might not be his strongest, but it's a fairly representative slice of his ever-growing catalog of peculiar music.
Speaking in Logistics is available at davekleh.bandcamp.com.