I love discovering new music. But, perhaps even more, I love new music from my favorite artists. Today, Denton’s Doug Burr drops a new 7″ and digital 4-song EP.
Several years ago, when I was living in Texas, my wife, some great friends and I drove in to Dallas to see Bill Mallonee (of Vigilantes of Love) play in a yoga studio. I remember being disappointed because there was an opening act, especially one we had never heard of. Burr took the stage accompanied by Glen Farris and I had an experience that has become all t00 rare: I was blown away. Burr played with passion and told haunting tales of toxic train crashes and soaring on the wings of eagles.
Since that night, Burr’s music has become a mainstay in our life. His music is both challenging and, at the same time, finds that spot in your soul where you feel like it’s always been part of your life. It connects. He has grown in skill and focus and that becomes tremendously apparent on this new 7″/EP. Velvet Blue describes the new release:
It’s alternate versions of songs from his critically acclaimed record O Ye Devastator. It’s limited ed. 7″ and available every where digitally. 2 tracks on the vinyl, 4 on the download card.
The tracks are beautifully stripped down, which isolates the actual song and really allows room for Doug’s distinctive vocals and lyrics to be out in front.
I’ll be honest: I’m not a completist, you know, one of those people who HAS to have EVERYTHING his/her favorite artist has EVER recorded. So, when I saw that the new release was alternate versions of previously released material, I almost passed. Why do I need different versions of songs I already love, I thought. But, after listening, I’m glad these recordings have been released. It’s one thing to admire an artist’s fully-produced, full-band albums. But, there’s always that question; if the full-band and full-production are stripped away, do the songs themselves still stand up? The answer here us unequivocally yes.
The EP opens with a stripped down, piano-led version of ”A Black Wave Is Comin’” and demonstrates without question that Burr’s songs, not the production that surrounds them is the driving force here. Accompanied by gently strummed acoustic guitar and plucked banjo, the song hauntingly holds on to hope in the midst of what seems to be impending doom. Though the lyrics some times deal with the darker side of life (“Chief Of Police In Chicago,” for example, details a baby born with a gene determined to cause criminal behavior), the tone is always warm and even welcoming.
The EP is largely piano-driven with splashes of acoustic guitar and banjo with little electric instrumentation or percussion, which puts Burr’s voice and lyrics up-front. He is a story-teller tapping in to the human condition in a way few others are able. His vocals are both assured and vulnerable, and, after repeated listens, I’m convinced that Burr is an important American songwriter that you should get to know.
With any musician, we should always be asking: when everything’s stripped away and we’re left with just the songs, is that enough? In Doug Burr’s case, the answer is a resounding yes.
Here the “Forest Fortress” version of “A Black Wave Is Comin’”
Watch the video for “Should’ve Known” from On Promenade, featuring a cameo from Josh T. Pearson: