Just how good is Antje Duvekot? The Boston Globe picked Big Dream Boulevard as the #1 folk release of 2006, above Springsteen. I'm not sure how one could call either Duvekot or Springsteen folk, but who's to argue? The point is that Duvekot produced, with the help of Black Wolf's Ellis Paul and Ralph Jaccodine, a major league album which holds its own against and surpasses most of what is accepted as the cream of today's crop. And they did it alone, without the deep pockets which are seemingly at times the only thing keeping major labels major. God love the album that thrives on the strength of the music. Big Dream Boulevard does just that.
A handful of critics have compared Duvekot to Dar Williams, something which makes me regret never having heard Williams. Dave Marsh, former "Rolling Stone" guru, thinks Duvekot has it, which shocks me. I seldom agree with Marsh, his ties to the world of major labels and stardom skewing any acceptance toward the aura of star than toward the music, but I do here. Duvekot is, as Marsh says, "the whole package" and anyone who doesn't hear it one minute into the lead track, Dandelion, is stone cold. An upbeat light-hearted rocker, it fades in magnificently, the pop in the background instruments perfectly supporting her solid vocals. Folky, maybe, but more rock, and downright catchy.
Go Now has a bit of the touch that made Audrey Martell's Life Lines CD so great, the chorus one great hook and perfectly produced, from the slightly wavering voice to the funky acoustic guitar and the perfecto background vocals. It is full-on band and makes me want to dance or pound my feet (it is beyond toe-tapping for me).
Diamond On Your Hand again reflects the sound of one of my favorite finds of the past year, that of Oami's Day In the City. Soft and floating with soft piano and (I assume) programmed keyboards toward the backside, it catches the heart and drags it twenty yards, as Emo Phillips would say. The harmonies are haunting. I can't get enough.
Duvekot changes gears on Sex Bandaid, falling in with the best that Linda Thompson or Marianne Faithfull have produced. Eerie and full of reverb and echo, it drags you to the chorus willingly and then thrashes you with the chorus and the band buildup, stacked harmonies beautiful yet demonic. If that intrigues you, how about these lyrics?
Open the floodgates
Face it. Marianne and Linda both would kill to come up with stuff that good.
And if you want a song that brings you to tears, Anna does that. An 85 year old lady lies in a hospital dying and her relatvies surround her, but her heart is in 1925 New Orleans with her father and her brother at the Harborfest "and your Daddy will by you something… at the end." Anyone who has watched someone they truly loved slip off this mortal coil will understand. The harmonies send chills up the spine.
Hold On tugs at the same heartstrings, but the depths are your own. If you've never hit bottom emotionally you might not relate, but few of us have not lost our way here and there and Duvekot writes this song for us all. A perfect capper.
Ellis Paul thinks that Duvekot has what it takes. In today's chaotic world of music, it won't be easy, but Black Wolf and Duvekot have decided it best to do it on their own. They may be right. They are only three CDs into her career and she shows incredible talent. My question, though, is what is she going to do for an encore? "Big Dream Boulevard" is as good as it gets. Miss this and I guarantee it will come back to haunt you.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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