sat 23/03/2019

CD: Duke Special - Oh Pioneer | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Duke Special - Oh Pioneer

CD: Duke Special - Oh Pioneer

Belfast's 'Hobo Tim Minchin' gets reflective

Duke Special: keeping music real

Despite his previous nine albums, Duke Special may still be best known for his “hobo Tim Minchin” look, and the lavish songs “Our Love Goes Deeper” and “Last Night I Nearly Died”. For those on the lookout for more of the same action, however, the new album may prove something of a disappointment: Oh Pioneer is actually a much more subdued creature. Yet, by shedding the melody-rich “chamber pop” mantle, Peter Wilson has, in fact, arrived at a sound that's potentially more mainstream. So what’s it like, and will it sell?

This is an album that, when in a reflective mood, you can get lost in

One point of reference may be I Am Kloot’s Sky at Night. Indeed, Oh Pioneer's opening hymn to dreamers, “Stargazer’s of the World Unite”, feels like it could almost have come from the same sessions. At least on a casual listen. But this album really rewards strapping on the headphones. Despite the presence of a variety of instruments, the album sustains a rich indie-folk sound. Highlights include Peter Wilson begging for the “Punch of a Friend”, or looking for his “Lost Chord”. Some might complain that over the 45 minutes the dreadlocked piano man dishes out a fairly heavy helping of similar-sounding honey-coated melancholia. But, even though only “How I Learned to Love the Sun” and the exotically eccentric “Snake in the Grass” provide significantly different flavours, in terms of a cohesive listen that’s no bad thing.

This is an album that, when in a reflective mood, you can get lost in. With vinyl static sound effects fizzing over grand pianos and Wilson saying that as a computer he’d be ZX81, it unashamedly looks back to simpler times, when artists wrote songs, not products. Wilson knows only too well about the financial problems associated with keeping it real. In 2010 he resorted to raising money from fans for his record and tour. 2012 may see him with a downbeat album, but it’s truly uplifting seeing this eccentric doggedly pursuing something he believes in. He deserves to shift shedloads.

Duke Special's teaser for Oh Pioneer

This album really rewards strapping on the headphones


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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