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Song Premiere: Bern Kelly Seeks Post-Breakup Peace in Beautiful Duet ‘Garage Sale’

Michael Butcher

Nashville’s Bern Kelly spent three years honing in on a dense narrative style. In the end, he found complexity and nuance in the simplicity of everyday routine.

On the gorgeous new duet “Garage Sale,” Elise Davis joins Kelly in a cathartic tale of finding post-breakup peace in a simple gesture.

With an impressive amount of detail for such a sparse tune, Kelly paints a sad portrait. The song’s characters divorced back in 2006 after marrying as young kids. She then ended up having her own babies with a man who didn’t do much right by her.

As the narrator pulls up to the house, she takes him back to the garage. There, she gifts him an old car and the former lovers split the difference on their emotional baggage. It’s a wonderfully common concept, but the beauty comes in the way Kelly and Davis squeeze the emotion and tension out of the lines.

“There are a lot of ways to try to make peace or be forgiven for past transgressions,” Kelly tells Wide Open Country. “And while the vehicle seems like a tangible one, it’s meant to be much deeper than that.”

Give a listen to the exclusive premiere of “Garage Sale” below.

“Lyrically, I was following the lead of greats such as Dwight Yoakam and Dean Dillon,” Kelly explains. “Guys who can make you feel like you really know the characters by the end of the song. Sonically, I was spending a lot of time with Mark Knopfler’s solo work and some early Red House Painters albums. Patrick Damphier’s production certainly allowed the sparseness to further set up the scene.”
As an Americana artist from Pennsylvania, Kelly moved to New York before ultimately finding more comfort in the Nashville community. He since spent years crafting a sound and building friendships with likeminded musicians.
Elise Davis, for instance, is friend of Kelly’s for years. And the same goes for producer Patrick Damphier. “The sparseness of Patrick’s production really helped set the scene, and Elise Davis’ vocals took this track over the top,” Kelly says.
Ultimately, “Garage Sale” presents one of several flavors from Kelly’s new album Lost Films. Fans of Ryan Adams, Jason Isbell and Jeff Buckley should definitely keep their ear to the ground for Kelly. The new album comes out June 23.

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Song Premiere: Bern Kelly Seeks Post-Breakup Peace in Beautiful Duet ‘Garage Sale’