Sean Kelly, a.k.a. Storie Grubb, thinks something is missing from mainstream music.
"There aren't any protest songs," he said, noting there's as much conflict in the world now as, say, in the '60s, when more musicians, poets and artists were speaking out against civil and global unrest through their art. "There should be more. Artists have a responsibility," he said.
It wouldn't be accurate to call Kelly's latest LP, The Length of Tomorrow (self-released, 2015) a protest album, but it is certainly his reflections on modern times and themes like war, death, love, life, religion and the relationships one has with fellow human beings on this beautiful planet."
Kelly calls Tomorrow a "pseudo concept album," and it certainly has lyrical threads tying tracks together as he explores childhood, coming of age and adulthood against the backdrop of bittersweet memories and a world gone to hell. In "Milky Way," Kelly sings "We got a Milky Way / Oh God, it's almost paved / The human race has nearly won / Mother Earth has come of age / and made herself a shallow grave / while she drives us all into the sun."
Kelly, who is an accomplished visual artist as well as a musician, wrote, arranged, performed, recorded and produced all except one track (a cover of Beck's "Jack-Ass") on Tomorrow and for each song, he created detailed illustrations. While the approach to music isn't different from his previous work, the music itself certainly is.
For several years, Kelly performed with a full band as Storie Grubb and the Holy Wars, playing mostly uptempo indie rock and garnering a healthy local fanbase. But in spring 2015, a yearning to go back to the guitar-based, lyric-centric music he loved when he first taught himself to play, had Kelly dismantling the Holy Wars, holing up and focusing on what would become Tomorrow.
"It's the culmination of my thoughts and dreams," Kelly said. "It's the best thing I've ever done."
Available online at Amazon, Bandcamp, iTunes and more, and at The Record Exchange. For more on Storie Grubb and to see the album art, visit facebook.com/Storie-Grubb.