Friday, March 29, 2013

Douglas Unger: "Old News" (album review)

It's taken seven years for Swedish singer Douglas Unger to produce his sophomore album.  On April 3rd (in Europe), everyone gets to find out what emotional pain and drama he's been going through.

Unger's musical influences are a who's who of American blues and rock map.  It's easy to pick out the sounds of Springsteen or Waits or even Stevie Ray Vaughn in his work.  Toss in a bit of Doors-like keyboard and organ work and you have a unique and forceful sound.

Bluesy rockers like "When the Bullet Leaves the Gun" and "Am I the Only" demand attention.  Dark, bombastic rockers like "Don't Let Your Heart" and "Step Out of Your Hole" elevate things to a new level.

The lead single "Hanging On a Shelf" has the lounge feel of an early Tom Waits lament.  "Kyrie Elieson" is the kind of blue collar rock that you would expect from Bruce Springsteen.  A more stripped down American folk rock ethos can be heard on "You Stole My Eyes".

The subject matter of Unger's songs is dark.  He weaves stories with vivid imagery, and delivers them with alternating snarl and boom.  No place is it better illustrated than on "In This New World (soft)".  The vocal boom and organ lead to an exhilarating crescendo on "At Night".

I'm not entirely sure why it took Unger so long between albums, but if he can pull these out on a more regular basis, we may be looking at an artist to keep our eyes on.

Best tracks: "At Night", "Step Out of Your Hole"

Track listing for Old News:
  • Hanging On a Shelf
  • Don't Let Your Heart
  • At Night
  • In This New World (soft)
  • When the Bullet Leaves the Gun
  • You Stole My Eyes
  • In This New World (muscle)
  • Am I the Only
  • Kyrie Elieson
  • Step Out of Your Hole
  • I Waited For

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