The Day Deserved
Intricate and Articulate Lo-Fi Americana That’s Perfect For the Big League
A lot of thought has gone into selecting this album for review as a) it’s my birthday today and b) it’s our 100th Album review of 2021; so I wanted something special ….. and this ticks every box in that respect.
Doug Hoekstra (pr: Hoke-Stra) is something of a modern Renaissance Man; singer, songwriter, performer, poet, writer and most other things within the Arts and, it appears quite succesful in all modes.
With all that, this is his first album in ten years; so ….. was the the wait worth it?
For me? Yep ….. defin-ately !
As is oft the case the song title, Seaside Town intrigued me enough to play this above a few more ‘high profile’ releases a few weeks ago; and within 30 seconds I was absolutely smitten. Doug conjures up some incredibly sepia toned images in his dark and universal tale; and for a song steeped in hallmarked Americana gold; there’s also more than a hint of post-punk irony in the way the singer tells the story.
Perhaps; and this happens several times here; Hoekstra’s worn and weary voice reminds me more than a little of Buzzcock, Pete Shelley; which is a damn fine thing at RMHQ.
This lo-fi tone continues on track #2, the 7 minute + opus Higher Ground; which is the total antithesis of the Stevie Wonder song of the same name; as it’s dark, brooding, brittle and wearily beautiful in equal measures.
Now I’m ‘into it’ Hoekstra’s songs and story telling are in a similar style to Elliot Smith and oddly enough; PJ Harvey; although less edgy and pissy than the latter.
This isn’t entirely ‘easy listening’; songs like Late Night Ramble, Keeper of the World and Unseen Undetected (with some spookily wonderful cello playing btw) all need the listener’s time and patience; but as we are all grown ups I’m sure those who get that far anyway will be mature enough to do just that; and will benefit as the stories unravel like sudden silver strike in the Yukon.
It’s obvious, early on that Doug Hoekstra has given up on chart success; but that plays right into our hands, doesn’t it? You, like me prefer our music to be deeply personal and articulate too; both of which our man does with great ease and grace too; not least on Wintertime or Carry Me and album finale Outside Looking In too; which may have been a perfect alternative title for this collection of gorgeous songs.
Two songs in particular stand out for me; the David Olney inspired (I’m sure) Gandy Dancer being the most commercial sounding song here; is actually far from it when you listen carefully. I had to Google said title; and it then made the song make complete sense as the man Hoekstra is singing about goes to work on the railroads; doing raw manual labour ‘that is close to slavery‘ and only lasts barely a week; before returning home, tail between his legs; only to find …… cue a twist in the tale.
Somehow this stonker is a weird Olney/Buzzcocks/Velvets/Zappa hybrid and well worth hunting out for your listening pleasures.
The other; and now my Favourite Song is the delightful Grace; which is scintillating and tragically beautiful …… again sounding like Pete Shelly fronting a Velvet Underground offshoot; and will send a shiver down your back.
Doug Hoekstra is not just a mighty fine singer, songwriter and storyteller; but the way this is sequenced and indeed; produced put it right up there with the Big League.
Released April 30th 2021