Alex Dupree “Thieves”

Keeled Scales, 2022

Fascinating collection of life, love and some narrow escapes.

Alex Dupree Thieves artworkThere are treasures here… caves and gangsters, bodies and bad guys, untrustworthy divas and the search for true love, rich dreams and poor decisions, poetry and prose all set in an opulent musical landscape. Make no mistake, Dupree’s sights are set far higher than being the winner of some musical popularity contest. He’s sometimes a magician pulling the strings, sometimes a director setting the scenes…what he is, quite simply, is a fully-formed writer, bringing something fresh to the world through his art.

Dupree’s songs are like guests who slink into the party unannounced; there is little in the way of clumsy, repetitive choruses or heavy dance beats to insist on your attention. What there are, though, and in abundance, are works with their own individual identities, which simultaneously have a strong sense of belonging together as a whole. This is a collection to be closely listened to – turn off the outside world, and immerse yourself in Dupree’s instead, it’ll be worth the entry.

It should also be said, these are beautifully produced pieces, with a variety of musical tapestries backing up the stories, and played with restrained verve by some extremely skilled musicians. There is some real interest in the bare bones of the tunes, too, so subtly manicured and arranged.

Take opener, ‘Toronto Reel’. It sounds so simple, but there are multiple key changes that help the song to build inexorably, and strings and the jaw harp (that rarest of beasts in the modern musical vernacular) add flourishes of colour. Then there is the easy roll of ‘The Seer’, the slightly Doors-y ‘The Cave’ and the proper country sounds of ‘Low Country Blues’.

Really, though, the focus of this record is the words, and even more, the stories; ‘Fortunado’ is like Abba’s ‘Fernando’ for adult readers, while ‘Missouri Moon’ is an extraordinarily tangled tale of body doubles and double dealing.

It is certainly a compliment, not a criticism, to say that it is hard to spot the ‘real’ Dupree in all this. The story teller serves the story, not the other way round, and there appears a complete lack of ego to get in the way. Time to close your eyes, open your ears, and let yourself be taken into the strange and intoxicating new worlds of Alex Dupree.

9/10
9/10

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