Joe Kile "Songs About the Same Old Stories" (Unread Records)

I remember sitting on a porch at a small house just east of downtown Austin, drinking Lone Star's, passing a semi-hollow body guitar back and forth with a friend visiting from Houston, looking at the dead brown lawn that was more dirt than grass, and thinking about how goddamn hot it was getting outside. It was the beginning of June and we were sweating our asses off just sitting there singing and playing music. This memory is the first image I have after pushing the play button on my cassette deck. The sounds I hear come courtesy of singer-songwriter Joe Kile. Alone with his acoustic guitar and twang vocals, his collection of tales of living by six strings and heartbreak is titled, "Songs About the Same Old Stories."

Kile, to my ears, is a disciple of the school of Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. Though his rustic poetry doesn't reach the heights of Van Zandt's (an impossible task, TVZ is untouchable), Kile's songs do recall Clark and the southern Texas, Louisiana, up to Tennessee country folk tradition. I love the hiss of this album. It sounds like it was recorded alone in an empty house or good sized shed. Maybe it was early in the AM and Kile didn't want to wake the family that was letting him sleep on their couch after a gig. The album's title is both tongue in cheek and accurate because his genre-style of lonesome acoustic picking does tend to tell the "same old stories," but they're good stories and that's all that really matters. Kile's fingerpicking riffs roll off the guitar as natural as a mountain stream runs after heavy rains. My favorite tune here is called "One Day Behind" and it starts off Side B with the kind of spot on melancholy typical of the introspective songwriter, but I love it just the same.

One small complaint: the cassette's packaging. I enjoyed the music and that's what counts, but the hand cut j-card (unfortunately paper of the thinner variety) and copy machine layout left me wishing for something more. I do love the typewriter aesthetic of Unread Records & Tapes though. In the end, I'd recommend this to fans o' folk quite happily.