O Ye Devastator

O Ye Devastator

Admit it. At their worst, this new wave of young folksingers, with their listless strumming and earnest delivery of high school poetry, can be hard to swallow, especially since not even the best of them—think Joanna Newsom and Devendra Banhart—has produced a classic song. Though not entirely innocent of these charges, Denton’s DOUG BURR stands out in surprising ways. To begin with, he’s not afraid to make his songs about something; he tells simple stories (subjects include unrequited lust and genetic predestination) and largely avoids swaddling his lyrics in impenetrable gauze. Yes, his third album, O YE DEVASTATOR (Velvet Blue Music/Spune), has a loaded title (which may be intended as a joke), but Burr’s keen ear keeps the arrangements varied. The first three tracks alone are dramatically distinct and make for a powerful opening. Even on the uncomplicated tune “Do You Hear Wedding Bells” he sets off a simmering intensity by weaving his vocals, Van Morrison–like, in and out of the melody. And when the moment calls for it, as on the title track, loud guitars and drums make everything boil over.

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