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Birddog - A Sweet and Bitter Fancy

  by Geraint Jones

published: 17 / 12 / 2001



Birddog - A Sweet and Bitter Fancy
Label: Happy Birthday To Me
Format: CD

intro

Conceived as an outlet for the disparate lo-fi songs of Bill Santen, ‘A Sweet And Bitter Fancy’ is Birddog’s third album following a brace of LPs recorded for Sugar Free in the late nineties A nati


Conceived as an outlet for the disparate lo-fi songs of Bill Santen, ‘A Sweet And Bitter Fancy’ is Birddog’s third album following a brace of LPs recorded for Sugar Free in the late nineties A native of Kentucky, Santen moved to California at the age of eighteen before settling in Portland, Oregon where he eventually attracted the attention of Elliott Smith who has continued to maintain his support for Birddog and guests on the track ‘Third And South’ on the new album. Santen’s voice, for the most part, lacks the gently understated, accessible style of Smith’s. He also draws on perhaps too many influences for his material including country, jazz and pop and whilst diversity shouldn’t be discouraged, ‘A Sweet And Bitter Fancy’ fails to gel satisfactorily as a result. The often-sparse arrangements coupled with Santen’s high-pitched wavering vocals border on the discordant at times. It's not all to be dispelled, however and there is material here to recommend as well: the deep rumbling cello on opener ‘Singapore Creek Seduction’, the almost euphoric pop of the aforementioned ‘Third And South’ and probably the best track on the album, the stripped down, vibes-backed shuffle behind the story of ‘Betty’ where Bill Santen employs a less affected vocal style which is more appealing. The rest of the album then meanders in indistinct fashion before the arrival of three unlisted bonus tracks, the first two of which feature Santen accompanied by just guitar and simple percussion. They’re amongst the better tracks on the album and possibly indicative of a future direction for Birddog. Either that or get Johnny Cash to record them as they’re stylistically in a similar vein. The album finally closes with a stripped down and better version of ‘Rattlesnakes’. So, some good, some not, but with enough decent material to indicate that perhaps next time we can expect a sweet and better fancy.



Track Listing:-



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