Kevin Finn's songs aren't all instrumentals, but they're also not your average pop songs with verses and a chorus. The longtime local folk musician has a tendency to paint with a sparing hand when it comes to lyrics; take, for example, the song "Eye," from his new album, 2012. It clocks in at almost two minutes long, but the lyrics are an exercise in economy:
"I'm not the way you'll find me. / Making my way in the armor I own. / Open my eye!"
That song, with its meandering electric guitar and tenuous sense of rhythm, is an example of what Finn refers to as a "found tracking" technique that informs both the recording and writing of the tune. He recorded the different instruments himself over a period of time, adding and subtracting tracks until he was ready to write and record lyrics.
"The lyrics — they're important to me. I think they need to be simple and to the point, and they're actually sourced within the song," Finn explains.
Finn has been a fixture in Pittsburgh for the past decade, releasing numerous full-lengths and EPs as a solo artist and with his old band, Last Night on Earth. He records mostly alone, though a few other musicians he's worked with in the past help out on the new record. His music is in the vein of Mark Kozelek: dreamy, often quiet, contemplative and pretty.
Nature and the city play heavily into Finn's imagery.
"I've spent lots of time out in nature," he says. "But I live in the city, so I kind of daydream about the times I was in the mountains or the forest. The city and nature, it's one and the same, but my writing really is a daydream."
And sometimes it's abstract. One song, "Locust," begins: "See it pourin' out of you — / The loss of fortune."
"That's actually my response to the Gulf oil spill," Finn explains. "Which you would probably never realize."
It adds a certain depth to what was already a beautiful song — but those who have kept up with Kevin Finn over the years won't find that surprising at all.