Left Of Centre Urbane and Expressive Country-Folk
I was sure I’d reviewed Rich Krueger’s debut album LIFE AIN’T THAT LONG in late 2017; but it appears I only actually posted his Christmas single instead……yet I can vividly remember listening to it several times.
I must have been otherwise engaged at that time with the recuperating Mrs Magpie.
Singing songs about their favourite Bars is a staple in Country Music; but I doubt Toby, Keith or Kenny would ever dare set foot in (Kenny’s) It’s Always Christmas Here) which kick-starts the record in a glorious left of centre manner that I love; and it kinds of reminds me of The Jerry in my home village of Craghead, in deepest, darkest Co. Durham but without the cocktails.
You can tell that Rich Krueger is obviously an educated man; by the way he writes and builds his songs, but they are always about real people in real situations with Waltz (Terpsichore) being a classy example as he drolly describes the girl, “She throws back her hair back/as she laughs/Her hair’s as wild as an arsonists dream” as a haunting fiddle and hypnotic drumbeat play out in the background.
When you hear it; you will know exactly the type of girl he’s singing about.
Many of the songs here are quite complex; but still accessible if that isn’t too big a contradiction. He himself cites Jacques Brel, Tom Waits and Robbie Fulks as inspirations and you can hear that in the intricately clever In Between Kingfish and In Regard of Flight, both of which academics could immerse themselves in for years and still not unravel. But not all songs are to be taken literally, are they?
But Krueger also delves back into his traditional Folk roots with the Celtic tinged Yesterday’s Wrong (Green) on which I can nearly visualise him singing with a finger in his ear.
Personally, as much as I like Rich’s songwriting skills I absolutely love his warm and distinctive voice; especially on the love song Elizabeth and the jaunty toe-tapper Me & Mr Johnson, which is about his relationship (fantasised) with Bluesman Robert Johnson.
There are left and right turns throughout here; but any album that can include songs as diverse as Por Que No Me Amas (Love Me) and Yesterday’s Wrong (Green), yet still make everything sound cohesive is alright by me!
Like most singer-songwriters of my acquaintance Rich Krueger has a day job to pay the bills; and that makes a feint appearance in the glorious O What a Beautiful Beautiful Day, in which he describes the joy and horrors of childbirth in the quirkiest of manners; as he draws on the regular 80-100 hours a week he spends as a Doctor at the University of Chicago!!!
Then of course there’s my Favourite Song and it’s one that caught my attention first of on the track list; but when I heard Girls Go For Arseholes I couldn’t stop smiling as my mind drifted back to my own teenage years ……. And even today I see this song being lived out every day around me.
Not only; but also this song contains one of my favourite lines for years…..
“they make me laugh/until I fart.”
How Rich Krueger’s found the time and inclination to write a bunch of songs as strong and eloquent as these is beyond me; but I am so happy he has…….as you will be when you first hear this album and will then pass on his name to all your friends too.
Released October 26th 2018