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Antje Duvekot


Review - Americana U.K - The Near Demise of the Highwire Dancer (April 2009)

Antje Duvekot "The Near Demise of the Highwire Dancer" (Black Wolf Records, 2009)

Beautiful. Moving. Exciting. More hyperbole follows

Ms Duvekot has emerged from the Boston music scene to be recognised far afield, garnering not just some heartfelt critical praise but more than a few prestigious awards, among them the first prize in the John Lennon Songwriting Competition.

And the songwriting, the lyricism, is what all these enamoured reviewers and Antje's swelling fanbase keep bringing up. So I suppose it's now my turn: the songwriting on display here is really good. It's actually fantastic. It's fresh and interesting and smart, rife with wonderful imagery and turns of phrase.

The opening track tells the story of the eponymous Highwire Dancer, walking a thin line and trapped in a balancing act whose nature is transposed to love and its absence. It recalls Sam Beam's opus "The Trapeze Swinger" without ripping it off. It's dizzying, full of vibrant soaring colour. "Long Way" is an open-skied roadmap in awe of America and its geography, a widescreen travelogue from coast to coast. She sings about it the way John Ford filmed the Monument Valley. Kerouac is name-checked and there is something Kerouacian in its wide-eyed wonder but it's more clean cut, more innocent, maybe a little more naïve.

And it's all delivered in the most lovely voice, calling to mind The Wailin Jennys' Ruth Moody and perhaps Frazey Ford of the Be Good Tanyas. It's sweet and vulnerable but never fey, always sure of what it's singing and able to convince the listener of it too. The songs are given room to breathe and grow and can stretch out past the six minute mark but it never feels indulgent, rather it feels as if Antje is just giving her songs their due attention rather than trying to stretch them out.

Superficially, "The Near Demise of the Highwire Dancer" seems like standard singer-songwriter fare. Tasteful folk-pop arrangements, lovelorn lyrics, radio friendly vibe. But there's real depth to it, real passion and skill. This one completely blindsided me and I now end this stream of hyperbole and join the ranks of people sitting up and taking notice of a talent more than worthy of the attention.

Date review added:  Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Reviewer:  Alex Cleary
Reviewers Rating: 9 out of 10


updated: 11 years ago