|Ken Stringfellow - 'Danzig In The Moonlight' (Lojinx)|
|Written by Ben Hughes|
|Saturday, 01 September 2012 04:00|
The Posies' 'Frosting On The Beater' played a big part in the soundtrack to my life back in 1993/4; alongside albums by Jellyfish and Redd Kross they filled a Power Pop sized hole in my life. The lush harmonies of Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow were pure ear candy for me and they have never been too far from my stereo over the years. So the chance to review the new solo offering from Ken Stringfellow is an exciting proposition for me and one I willingly take.
Ken Stringfellow's list of collaborations is a long one for sure, The Posies and The Disciplines main man has spent over 15 years as a member of Big Star, and 10 with R.E.M. in the studio and on the road with both. He has also played guitar in Lagwagon as well as producing and engineering a host of other artists big and small over the years. Where the hell he finds the time to record solo albums in between all this musical creativity is anyone's guess, but 'Danzig In The Moonlight' is the 4th solo album from the man and I am excited to finally delve into it and see what it has to offer.
The piano led opener 'Jesus Was An Only Child' sets a chilled vibe from the off. With Ken's sweet textured vocals layered like velvet over the subtle instrumentation, it builds nicely into an almost 'Hunky Dory' era Bowie-like tune that gives me the feeling this is going to be an interesting ride indeed.
The ride continues upwards and onwards with the sweet summery acoustic sounds of '110 Or 220 V', some nice harmonica adds feeling, but that lush voice of his could surely soothe souls and cure aches and pains on just the first listen, and generally just make you feel nice all day long.
'Shittalkers' is one of several tracks that have that Posies pop suss that I just love, it sounds like a band giving it their all live and late at night in the studio. He creates space here, it's a very stripped down sound, mainly piano and drums stand out, the added aggressive and fuzzy guitar riff comes in and out adding serious drama to the song and it warms deep to the soul.
'Drop Your Pride', like 'Shittalkers', has a very live feel, the lonesome guitar notes echo out on the intro to this song, beautiful and warm it sets a scene in my mind immediately and literally strikes a chord with me. It leads into almost big band brass, lush multi-tracked harmonies fill the chorus making it a stand out song for me. The hook has this almost Bond theme quality to it, strange but true.
'You're The Gold' is upbeat, country-tinged pop with what I believe to be some accordion going on that gives it a definite European feel, love it. In complete contrast to that is a song like 'Pray', it has soul and lots of it, outstanding vocals going on here it has to be said, imagine Lenny Kravitz or even Prince laying down their best '70s soul moments, simply beautiful.
'Odorless, Colorless, Tasteless' is a haunting tune bathed in strings, with underlying wah-wah guitar and general subtlety, it reminds me of St Vincent and even Jimmy Gnecco. 'Even The Forgers Were Left Fingering The Fakes' again is a song with laid back Posies pop suss, it's light refreshment for a summer's day and it's these sort of songs that stay with me, and keep me coming back for more.
Worth mentioning here also is 'Doesn't It Remind You Of Something' a country tinged duet with Charity Rose Thielen of The Head & The Heart. Charity's country voice mixed with Ken's lush vocals contrast each other nicely like a modern day Cash & Carter collaboration, sweet and inviting it is.
It's funny, on first listen I wondered what have let myself in for with this album, naively I thought it was just going to sound like Ken's 'other band', but it is of course much more than that. 'Danzig In The Moonlight' yields much with repeated listens, it's warm and inviting, chilled and laid back. It veers from Power Pop to Country, from the lazy '60s trippy pop of '4am Birds - The End Of All Light - The Last Radio' to the beautiful soul of 'Pray' there is much that stands out and much to take in. It's a collection of contrasting songs that work well together as a complete album, I imagine the sound has been influenced by the diverse bands Ken works with whether intentionally or subliminally it comes through in the songs.
Ken lays back on the guitars on this album, they are there but it's kept to subtle use in the background, the odd tasty riff or fuzzed out chords add a bit of balls where needed. There's a great use of space on this album, less is more so to speak and that mixed with hints of Country, Americana, European influences and good old Power Pop makes for a diverse and interesting listen. It's definitely retro in feel and modern in sound, and that makes it pretty much essential listening for me.
To pick up your copy of 'Danzig In The Moonlight' - CLICK HERE