Kevin Krauter, "Full Hand" (Bayonet Records)
Kevin Krauter's "Full Hand" draws on the music of his early youth, like emo and '90s rock, and on his personal experiences grappling with growing up, religion and sexuality.
Thankfully, those musical influences are incorporated mostly in highly-filtered versions, with Krauter's often dreamy and easygoing songs masking a high degree of introspection.
Krauter, an Indiana-based songwriter and also bass player in low-fi indie rockers Hoops, has an effortless vocal style that makes even the most intimate episodes of self-awareness easy to digest.
The songs are built on layers of acoustic and electric guitars, drum machines, synths and live drums, performed solely with musician and engineer Ben Lumsdaine.
"Intro," a slightly psychedelic instrumental, opens the album as a kind of mini-sampler for the songs that follow, while another instrumental, "Intermission," appears halfway through the 12 songs and feels like an exploration, a walk through a cinema lobby full of people you haven't decided whether or not to engage with.
"Surprise" most directly tackles the confusion and pain that one's developing identity can cause. The title track offers up one of the record's sweetest melodies, while the solitude at the center of "Pretty Boy" may just have found a cure.
Continuing the reflective road launched with "Toss Up," his 2018 debut, the bouquet of open-ended conclusions on "Full Hand" suggests Krauter has many more travels planned.