Sometimes the softest sounds produce the loudest impact. This seems to be the case with Aaron Kaufman's Gone. Back after a 2-year hiatus, the 20-year-old singer-songwriter from Connecticut's sophomore release features more of the same sensitivity seen in For The Long Ride Home in skillfully weaving together wistful lyrics and memorable melodies, but with a newfound maturity in creating a musical experience guaranteed to leave listeners wanting more. At times donning the omniscient storyteller's hat, and at other times baring his soul with abandon and yearning, the songs in Kaufman's album evoke a variety of emotions. The album opens on an energetic note with the up-tempo, A Window, A Hole and closes on the same note with Friday the 13th. These songs and Helicopters feature a full band with Charlie Van Kirk on drums and percussion, Jordan Jancz on cello, Eric Pratt on additional guitars and Jenna Bollard reprising her complementary role on vocals. It is, however, on the softer tracks - which often feature refreshingly simple arrangements showcasing Kaufman's stirring vocals and groove-y acoustic guitar playing - that this talented singer-songwriter is obviously in his element. On Dancer, Kaufman's contemplates "Do I give up myself to keep you? / Or do I follow my heart and leave you? / Should I change just to please you? / Or should I move on without you?" Love - newfound and lost - are the themes of Confines of a Corner, I Am Just A Sailor, and Dear Red Sunset, perfect listening for rainy days in front of the fire. And of course, this review would not be complete if I didn't mention my latest favorite track, First Snow, which evokes more emotion in 1:48 minutes than most songs do in double that time. Seeing Kaufman in concert, one quickly realizes how songs like Five White Ships and All My Life (that won Kaufman the Whadya Idol competition on NPR) connect with the audience on a visceral level and highlight Kaufman's development as a masterful singer-storyteller in his own right. At times recalling the slower Damien Rice songs on O and at other times offering hopeful glimpses of love, this album is a more than adequate follow-up and definitely a step in the right direction for Kaufman. And despite it's title, this album will probably not be going anywhere other than your CD player for a while. Album Review by Josh Yeoh.
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