Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Franz Nicolay: "Do The Struggle" (album review)

You never know what you're going to get from multi-instrumentalist Franz Nicolay.  Sometimes you get something existential. Sometimes it's something trippy.  He was the pop sensibility in The Hold Steady.

On his third solo album, Do The Struggle, it's something else again entirely.  The record, out October 9th, sees Nicolay take a rootsy turn with his music.

The tone is set from the beginning with the album opener "The Heart of Boston", a Black 47-worthy Celtic rocker.  That east coast feel strikes again with the sea shanty-like "The Migration of the Cuckoo".

The twang enters on the rootsy "Take No Prisoners", a track on which Nicolay duets with Emily Brodsky.  He picks up the banjo for the chugging "You Don't Know I'm Here".  A pluck and stomp drive "Live Free".

There are some exceptions to the roots slant.  "Did Your Broken Heart Make You Who You Are?" is a slick, emotive orchestal pop number.  The title track is a continuously-evolving genre-bender.  The somber closer, "Joy", is the exact opposite of its title.

Never one to stick to one sound for too long, Nicolay does a decent job at the roots music.  He's by no means the greatest or most authentic artist in the genre (you can tell he's putting on an act), but the songs will keep you entertained.

Best tracks: "The Heart of Boston", "Take No Prisoners"

Track listing for Do The Struggle:
  • The Heart of Boston
  • Do The Struggle
  • Did Your Broken Heart Make You Who You Are?
  • Frankie Stubb's Tears
  • You Don't Know I'm Here
  • Take No Prisoners
  • The Migration of the Cuckoo
  • Live Free
  • The Day All the Leaves Came Down
  • Joy

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