Doug Burr’s new album O Ye Devastator is so well-crafted and precise in every aspect of the music that it is the rare type of work that pays off immediately yet also becomes more rewarding after many listens.
The songwriting is targeted at the chest and spine and Burr's aim is true from track one, “A Black Wave is Comin.’” He has a knack for hitting chords, notes and emotions that send a tingle through the spine and open up the lungs.
Adding to this sensation is his band’s brilliant control over the dynamics. They never rush a crescendo or peak too soon, saving their loudest volumes for the moments that matter the most. In fact, the entire album is a perfectly balanced crescendo using the first five songs to build to the zenith of “I Got This Fever/ O Ye Devastator” and using the last five to come to a wonderfully soft close with “High Blood and Long Evening Dresses.”
Throughout, Burr has brilliant control of his vocal timbre; he shifts effortlessly between a scuffed up, muddled, twangy and pure tenor. The differences can really be heard as “Red, Red” moves to “You’ve Been a Suspect All of Your Life.” On the surface, this seems like simply a musical choice to add some variety, but a closer listen reveals them to be much more than that.
Each song is a sketch with its own setting and characters. Burr voices every one of these characters and his vocal changes are necessities to make them believable as they search for reasons to hope amidst the doom and gloom of their worlds.
On O Ye Devastator, not only is Burr performing as a musician, but also as an actor and he is doing both at a high level.
O Ye Devastator is out on CD and a vinyl edition will be released in June via Spune.