First Appeared in The Music Box, February 2006, Volume 13, #2
Written by John Metzger
If Duncan Sheik has yet to reach the tipping point of mainstream recognition, it largely is because his restlessness has made him difficult to pigeonhole. A decade ago, he scored a modest hit with Barely Breathing, an infectious slice of soothing, adult contemporary pop that turned his self-titled debut into gold and snatched for him a Grammy nomination. Since then, he’s done everything possible to run from his success by suffering through his own growing pains on Humming; crafting an homage of sorts to obscure, but well-respected British folk singer Nick Drake on Phantom Moon; and trying too hard to encapsulate the entirety of his work on the subdued and decidedly strained Daylight. In a sense, his latest effort White Limousine is Daylight’s second chapter in that Sheik dresses his material in a similar array of dreamily narcotic and deeply atmospheric textures, but this time, he mostly gets it right. Although listening to the album is, initially, a daunting experience, a minor investment of time slowly reveals that his melodic sensibility has remained intact, even as his lyrics have become more pointed and his arrangements have grown more sophisticated and nuanced. Whether haunted by love (I Don’t Believe in Ghosts), the political climate of post-9/11 America (the title track and Star-field on Red Lines), or mass consumerism (Shopping), Sheik transforms his anxieties into what undeniably is his most compelling and cohesive outing to date. Despite the fact that White Limousine doesn’t plumb the same emotional depth as Drake’s endeavors did, it does make the case that Sheik’s newfound independence from the trappings of a major label contract might be just the thing to reignite his stalled career.
White Limousine is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box