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Antje Duvekot

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Review - Minor 7th - The Near Demise of the High Wire Dancer (May 2009)

Antje Duvekot, "The Near Demise of the High Wire Dancer," Black Wolf Records, 2009

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If you could dive into a Kris Delmhorst song and not come up for air once, you'll love Antje Duvekot. She's one of the best singer-songwriters out there, with lyrics rich in metaphor and paired with beautiful melodies. Her voice is a lovely airy soprano that can also dip down for the low notes. When she sings in an upper register, she has that catch in her voice like Catie Curtis does.

One of her favorite songwriters, Richard Shindell, produced this album and it shows -- they chose musicians and arrangements that perfectly showcase her bittersweet lyrics. Acoustic instruments hold the spotlight, with touches of electric guitar, drums and pedal steel. The disc opens with "Vertigo," a ballad in waltz time that she co-wrote with Mark Erelli. He sings and plays mandolin, too, lending a sweet innocence to this tune about uncertainty in a relationship: "I will try to hold steady / Wanna make you believe / That the height of this tightrope is just second nature to me / but I will break all my bones / 'cause I lied about the vertigo." It's centered around a steadily strummed acoustic guitar and sweetened with a touch of pedal steel. She picks the tempo in "Ragdoll Princes and Junkyard Queens," a song about chasing love, then follows with another ballad, "Long Way." John Gorka sings on that one. Add a mournful harmonica and words about travel, metaphoric and real, and damn, you've got a great song. "Dublin Boys" is a love song, if you look at it sideways. She must have done something awful to a friend to write "Scream" or perhaps, it's about someone else, because she sings "The only reason I arrive is to leave" then goes on to detail why she's not a good friend. It's biting and the minor key is perfect. "Coney Island" is about a new relationship. I love the simplicity of the arrangement -- her guitar, voice and a bass telling us the story. Ending the disc is a sweetly sung children's song by Gerhardt Schone. It's in German and an English translation would've helped but still, it's beautiful. My only gripe about this beautiful album is that Antje only plays the guitar on three cuts. She wrote most of the songs so I'm assuming that she can play them. I understand how things go in a studio but with self-confessional songs like these, it feels more authentic to have the singer-songwriter play her own instrument.
© Jamie Anderson

updated: 7 years ago