Album Review: Fleetwood Kelly – Just Happy to Be Here

The Breakdown


Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Fleetwood Kelly has finally unveils the anticipated debut album, ‘Just Happy to Be Here’. With a captivating blend of classic Americana and contemporary pop, Kelly delivers a modern yet organic sound that resonates deeply with listeners, marking a significant milestone in his musical journey.

Through heartfelt storytelling, gentle soundscapes and poignant melodies, Kelly invites audiences into his world, where each track serves as a chapter in his compelling coming-of-age narrative. From his upbringing in rural Pennsylvania to his embrace of the vibrant and eccentric life in Los Angeles, ‘Just Happy to Be Here’ paints a vivid portrait of Kelly’s evolution, infused with themes of identity, acceptance, and resilience.

Opening with the atmospheric intro track ‘remember, boy’, the album opens on an emotional melancholic note. Layering atmospheric synths, field recordings and gradually introducing some subtle acoustic guitar and swelling pedal-steel, Fleetwood Kelly instantly showcases his ability to create beautiful ambience akin to Bon Iver or an intro you might find on a 1975 album.

Across the album, the blend of electronics, live instrumentation blended with elements of contemporary pop and country undertones shines right, balancing between each element to create a sound which floats with a sense of freedom. Both ‘dead on arrival’ and ‘sweet nothings’ demonstrate an emotional sincerity in both the vocal delivery and the delicate, thoughtfully constructed instrumentation.

Lead single ‘like you’ totally breaks the mould with a more buoyant, obvious pop structure and feel, swapping the emotional beauty for catchy riffs and dare I say, a little bit of cheese. Probably for me one of the the weaker tracks on the album, the lead single contrasts starkly against the beauty and emotional approach of the rest of the album but does at least showcase Kelly’s adaptability to jump between styles.

Tracks like ‘just the wine’ and ‘hail mary’ capitaliser on the 80s influence within Kelly’s sound, delivering stadium filling soundscapes and epic, catchy and heartfelt melodies.

Throughout ‘Just Happy to Be Here’, Kelly demonstrates his versatility as a songwriter, seamlessly blending elements of synth-pop, Americana, country and pop to great effect. It’s catchy, at times heartfelt and emotional and at others beautifully constructed and musically rich across 12 tracks which showcase his width as an artist.

Listen below:

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