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Delicate sixth album from the Nashville-based musician Doug Hoekstra, which finds him shifting away from the string and horn sections of the past, and experimenting with a new more basic sound
Doug Hoekstra’s five previous albums have all been grand affairs. Flitting across genres, and taking in often several times in the same song elements of the blues, avant garde, jazz, folk, pop and rock, they are fluid, eclectic records which have found the Nashville-based, ever-versatile Hoekstra working with scores of other musicians and experimenting with the likes of string and horn sections and gospel choirs.
‘Waiting’, his sixth album, which came out on Paste Music in the United States last year and has now just been released on Fundamental Records in Europe is, however, a very different option. Stripped down and bare, it was originally planned as a set of demos before Hoekstra decided halfway through recording them that the material he was coming up with was strong enough to make an album in its own right.
On most tracks Hoekstra, who recorded the album at home in late 2002 while he and his wife, Molly. awaited the birth of their first child Jude, appears alone, accompanying himself with just an acoustic and electric guitar. Of all the many instruments he has used in his repertoire, the most powerful has always been his voice, a half-whispered, half-spoken croon which lulls its listener in with an understated, but authorative passion. While the tunes on 'Waiting’ are stark in tone, they carry over from the previous albums a similar strong sense of melody. ‘Waiting’ will come as something of a shock to long-term Hoekstra converts, but nevertheless for all this proves to be strikingly effective.
Hoekstra’s concerns are often worldly. The heartaching ‘Theresa’ examines the plight of a Brazilian street child, but tracks written about matters closer to home equally hit the mark. ‘Dark Side of the Pearl’ is written from the perspective of a bemused friend, trying to work out why a once perfect couple’s relationship has disintegrated into emotional and physical violence. The vulnerable narrator on ‘Eternity’ meanwhile finds sudden comfort when his lover announces her intention to stay.
Like the best of short story writers, Hoekstra has the ability to take ordinary, often undistinguished lives and to make them eventful and universal. ‘Waiting’ is the simplest of all Hoesktra’s records, but it is this simplicity which makes its impact powerful.On it Hoekstra has created something undeniably poignant and precious.
Blow Beautiful Dreams
Crawling out from Under
In the Middle of the Night
Dark Side of a Pearl
The Artesian Well
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