Kyle Harris began playing guitar in a Southern Baptist church in Missouri when he was just 12 years old. Six years later, he lost his faith, discovered filmmaking and found his passion in railing against capitalism and advocating for queer rights and identity. With an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in his back pocket, Harris found his way to Denver in 2005, programming and producing documentaries for Free Speech TV.
Somewhere along the way — between growing disillusioned with nonprofit politics and teaching at Colorado Film School — Harris started writing and playing songs again just last year, under the name Bearsnail. Since then, he’s written over 100 songs, 12 of which appear on the artist’s surprising debut, “Imperfect Goodbyes.”
On first listen, Bearsnail sounds like ironic twee pop — Harris’s endearingly off-key vocals and brutish acoustic guitar suggest the unholy collision of Jonathan Richman and Billy Bragg — but a closer listen reveals disturbing depths. Harris’s preferred subject matter includes domestic abuse, failed love and a surfeit of suicides. Though his quirky vocal delivery hints at humor, there’s very little that’s funny about the pain out of which “Imperfect Goodbyes” arises.
“This song is a way for me to pray that I never have another lover try to kill themselves in my presence,” Harris sings on “Tribute Song.” And though lyrics like that might sound over the top, Bearsnail’s quirky, sincere and self-effacing delivery make it all very real and compelling. Steal “Guts” for a sample of Harris’s uniquely honest songwriting and performance style, then pop down to the Meadowlark Bar on Saturday, Oct 15, to see the man in action and pick up a copy of the CD.
Please note that downloads offered via Steal This Track are intended to whet your appetite, and are NOT CD-quality recordings. If you want those, please support the artists by buying their music and/or seeing them live.
If you’re a band or musician ready to expose your fresh sounds to the readers of Reverb, email your tracks — along with any interesting facts about them, as well as a photo or album art — to Eryc Eyl for consideration.
Eryc Eyl is a veteran music journalist, critic and Colorado native who has been neck-deep in local music for many years. Check out Steal This Track for local music you can HEAR, and the Mile High Makeout for stories about Denver musicians doing extraordinary things. Against his mother’s advice, Eryc has also been known to tweet. You can also follow Steal This Track on Twitter. Sorry, Mom.