Picture Thom Yorke and Radiohead pre-OK Computer in a cool mello-shuffle groove with the lightly classical leanings of Tim Buckley aided by Colin Blunstone's airy refrains (Zombies, Keats, Alan Parsons), and you have a good reflection of Alex Trugman in his debut CD, Marionette. Trugman had previously made it to the 8th Season semi-finals of American Idol by, along with 35 others, beating out 110,000 contestants (whoooooa!). Proof of legitimacy in hand, the guitarist instead decided to clinch things by deviating from Hollywood's tinsel and glitter format to attend Miami's Frost School of Music in order to fine out his chops yet further.
The result of that is what forms this latest in the CandyRat label's line of vocal CDs falling squarely outside the moribund mainstream, preferring terrain the Guggenheim Grotto and a number of the better nu-rock/nu-folk groups chose in a polyglot style incorporating samba, lite jazz, folk, and soft rock for a relaxing and tuneful set of breezy afternoons and late summer environments. Thus, while Trugman's playing, though understated in the disc and rightly so, given the chosen formula, is very good, the focus is on his wispy voice and often surprisingly contrary lyrics, as in the title cut.
Marionette is, as the word implies, a song about a guy not fully in control, always getting kicked around by his unfaithful girlfriend, though you'd never know it just in the hummable laid-back sonic habiliment. This then creates an interesting contrast, one the whole release spends a lot of time with, as the titles listed below hint. There are distinctly Nick Drake-ian quotes throughout Marionette, and the atmosphere of melancholy is just as omnipresent, Mr. Blah perhaps the best venue for that, growing semi-operatic at times. In the end, though, the disc will stick with you not for its initial gentle impact but because it demands return listens in order to absorb quite a few subtleties fully.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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