Kinky Friedman: Circus Of Life (Kinky Friedman)

Reviewed by Harry Kaplan
Better get a whole fuckin’ box of tissues for this album. I am not even kidding. Everything you thought you knew about the singing Jewish cowboy from Illinois that lives in Texas, needs to be thrown out the window. This isn’t just a fun-loving album that Kinky is known for. The humor is not as prominent as in years past, but the humor has been replaced with some of the most thought provoking  songwriting I have been exposed to in quite a while. 

I am completely smitten with this album after finally giving it a listen tonight. The tears are just free flowing out of my tear ducts, almost on their own. The songs are hauntingly beautiful, almost beyond the grasp of my ability to adequately describe. At the risk of sounding like a lazy writer, you really need to listen to this magnum opus to truly appreciate the genius.
From the first note of a A Dog Named Freedom (Track 1), I knew this album was different and special. The first few bars of the acoustic guitar really sets the tone for this song. Very minimal instrumentation. Then when Kinky starts singing, my heart aches. The pain is bittersweet, but mostly sweet. As Kinky states so eloquently, “I think dark lives next door to uplifting.” The lyrics on this song are some of Kinky’s most inspiring, ever. 
Back To Grace (Track 6) is a sad cowboy song the likes of which I have never heard before. Kinky also stated that the inspiration and impetus for these songs run deeper than we will ever know. That must be an incredible weight to hold on to. I hope Kinky was able to lessen his emotional load on this track. The lyrics are as meaningful to me as the first time I heard Leonard Cohen sing The Butcher. Just emotionally draining, but a pain I gladly endure over and over.
Don’t put those tissues away yet. If you aren’t crying, you will be once the last track, Sayin’ Goodbye (Track 12) ends. The music is this beautiful and sad backdrop that plays perfectly into Kinky’s vocals and lyrical delivery. This song will be on repeat for me for quite a while. Again. my writing skills cannot adequately convey the emotion on this track. 
All the songs seem to be like a collage of pictures and stories woven together to try to piece Kinky’s life together. No way to do that in one album, but this is a wonderful start. Kinky’s voice is absolutely brilliant and matches his writing style. This album is described by Kinky as the “Matlock Collection” because that is what Kinky was watching when Willie Nelson convinced him to start writing again. Thank you Willie from the bottom of my heart.
Listen to Circus Of Life
Buy Circus Of Life

 

 

 

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