|Duke Special | CD review | 2012|
DUKE SPECIAL - Oh Pioneer (Adventures in Gramophone - 18/06/12)
We’re not even halfway through 2012 but here’s an early contender for album of the year from the utterly mesmerising Duke Special.
It’s an eclectic mix of genres, from the Ghost Town vibe of Snakes in the Grass to the military rhythm of My Lazy Saviour, and yet nothing jars or jolts - everything sits perfectly alongside everything else.
If you listen through headphones you spot a whole new world of delights and nuances such as the crackle of a record player and too many enchanting noises to mention. If you listen whilst driving, when the journey ends you don’t want to get out of the car because you don’t want to stop listening. The stripped back band which has accompanied Duke on his first tour of this album speaks volumes about the strength of the songs it comprises – they’re less outwardly dramatic and far more intricate and intimate than previous offerings, holding possibly Peter’s most detailed lyrics yet. And that’s not to do disservice to any of his earlier work, but the striking Condition has both clever and unusual rhyming couplets at its heart and a wonderfully rousing climax, while Punch of a Friend is as carefully written and as beautiful as the book it’s based on (East of Eden).
Oh Pioneer is imbued with a sense of wanderlust, love and, more than anything, an already accomplished artist truly honing his craft. The album notes for Always Been There read “An attempt to put into words the longing which seems to attach itself to all of us. Impossible.” Similarly, even after numerous plays it’s impossible to put into words just how close to perfection this album is. You need to listen to it. Preferably on headphones!
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