CD REVIEW: Kevin Durr - Songbird
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Artist: Kevin Durr
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Folk, Singer/Songwriter, Americana
Sounds Like: R.E.M., Dave Matthews Band, Barenaked Ladies, Matt Nathanson, John Maher, Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson, Counting Crows
Technical Grade: 7/10
Weakness: Winded Songs, Short sided CD, Vocal Intensity, More solo segments (other than Violin), more Americana instrumentation.
Kevin Durr is one artists that brings acoustic ballads take the listener on a musical journey through reflective, touching, poetic expressions into a world of captivatingly beautiful, syncopated vocal harmonies. The remaining material offers a more electrically charged display of raw emotion and high energy that, combined with the acoustic ballads, provide the listener a wide spectrum of listening enjoyment. This latest 11 Track effort “Songbird” was released in 2014 ad features Kevin Durr (Guitar, Vocals), Clifford Williams (Bass and Drums), Rachel Schuldt (Cello), Jimmy Chaos (Violin), Abigail Tieck (Vocals), Kari Louise (vocals), Ashley Kelly (Vocals).
The CD kicks things off with melodic Songbird” a passionate yet invigorating guitar.violin driven intro groove with driving rock rhythm, hooky chorus and emotionally charged vocal delivery from Durr that really lifts the spirit. Track 2 “In My Dreams” serves up another hooky groove, with melodic musical flow coupled with amazing message, impressive vocal harmonies against a grand slam, heatfelt chorus. Track 3 “Forever and a Day” keeps things moving in the right direction with its warm musical feel, eventually lending itself into an infectious melody with thought provoking lyrical content that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. As the CD unfolds I can hear many musical influences reminiscent of R.E.M., Dave Matthews Band, Barenaked Ladies, Matt Nathanson, John Maher, Jason Mraz, Jack Johnson, Counting Crows. Right from the start you will notice Durr feels quite comfortable just letting it all hang out musically, not holding anything back. The overall musical vibe has a nice Americana Folk feel to it. Music is at times genuine, gripping, melodic, poppy and hooky with pockets of hope shining through. Also present are rock solid rhythm guitar playing, impressive solo guitar, eloquent Violin, Cello, and well placed acoustic guitar ambience built upon a thick as a brick rhythm section. Durr’s got solid vocal timber and is full of passion and recklessness abandon. He’s got good vocal instincts within each movement he displays an impressive power, trailing vibrato and inviting timber throughout. His vocal style reminds me a lot of Michael Stipe (R.E.M) and even Steven Page (Barenaked Ladies). Durr is a gifted songwriter, storyteller and vocalist. Behind the guitar and microphone he’s even got some soul. The songwriting is brilliant and provides a lot of musical variety and emotion. His vocal emotions really seal the deal for me as he makes a strong emotional connection with the listener. All the Engineering aspects are in check (Recording, Mixing, and Mastering) as the CD possesses solid low end punch and crystal clear high end clarity. Durr really handles all the pin drop moments extremely well - this is a critical component of Singer/Songwriter often taken for granted, The musicianship from all the other members in the band has everything you would expect from a standard "earthy" Americana-Folk band. The songs themselves are consistent musical experiences, each one possessing unique personality, flair and signature groove. From heartfelt “The Night is Long” to impassioned “the Fall” to dynamic “Tonight Tonight” to Invigorating “Home” to rocking “Black Magic” this 11 track CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 11 “Courage” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
All songs over 4 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line. CD is a bit short with 11 track, perhaps 1-2 more songs are needed to make this a fully loaded release. Durr comes on a bit strong even during the slower pockets of his music. He should step back from the mic a bit, find the emotional pocket, and dial down the power and intensity a few notches for the slower parts. I wish there were more solos from instruments other that the violin. To go with this last comment perhaps more instrumentation would up the catalog a bit better within this earthy Americana environment. Things like Flute, Harmonica, Electric Piano, Organ, Piano, Sporadic Percussion, Dobro, Mandolin and Pedal Steel. CD was Mixed and Mastered by the same individual. Typically you want a separate engineer assigned to each phase of post- production to maximize it’s potential (Speaker to Ear.) The picture of Durr on the actual CD/Disk is to say the least awkward.
In close “Songbird” by Kevin Durr delivers an impressive, passionate, impassioned 11 song release from Durr. He upholds the highest standards in good Americana Folk. If he has an impressive live presentation then that would be a deadly combination no doubt. The songs are extremely melodic, passionate and highly entertaining – and clearly proves Durr is on to something special going down this path. At the end of the day Kevin Durr is a world-class singer/songwriter possessing an infectious Folk personality clearly worthy of worldwide recognition. One would be wise to keep a watchful on him over the years to come.