Monday, August 20, 2012

Duncan Sheik

Duncan Sheik, that erstwhile purveyor of introspective pop from South Carolina, first broke into the scene with 1996's aching tale of one-sided affection, the melodic gem 'Barely Breathing', and has since been widely known to the record-buying public by that sole success. While this might be accurate from a commercial point of view (nothing he has released since then has matched the Top 40 breakthrough status of that particular tune), it would be highly erroneous to assume that the hit single remains his only substantial work. Sheik's eponymous debut album is filled with other maudlin, melancholy but majestic numbers that presented him as a modern-day troubadour to be reckoned with. One of these numbers is the nearly six-minute epic 'Little Hands', which ends the album on a bitterly disheartening way. This composition, which is an even more realistic portrayal of unrequited love than 'Barely Breathing', is marked by several bars of a recurring acoustic-guitar line, plucked with excruciating precision and agonisingly rendered in Sheik's hushed lower-register tenor, simultaneously evoking the spirits of Nick Drake and Billie Holiday. Check out this despair-infused torch song and be prepared to be drowned in its disconsolately downcast atmosphere.


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