Fast Paced World
First Appeared in The Music Box, August 2008, Volume 15, #8
Written by John Metzger
Wed August 27, 2008, 06:30 AM CDT
Over the span of 19 months in 2005 and 2006, The Duhks released three albums for Sugar Hill: a self-titled set that essentially put the group on the radar of many roots-music fans; its terrific follow-up outing Migrations; and a new rendition of Your Sons & Your Daughters, the ensemble’s debut from 2003. Between its high-profile collaborations with Bela Fleck and Tim O’Brien as well as its prominent presence at an array of jam band and bluegrass festivals across the country, the Canadian outfit seemed poised for achieving wide-sweeping success.
Before The Duhks could capitalize fully upon its good fortune, however, Jessica Havey, a founding member of the group, departed to pursue her own projects. Percussionist Scott Senior followed closely behind her. Although the collective quickly brought Sarah and Christian Dugas on board to replace them, the new members have yet to become fully assimilated into the ensemble. After all, personnel changes understandably have a tendency to disrupt a band’s chemistry. For an outfit like The Duhks, which appears to thrive on taking a democratic approach to its performances, the repercussions can take awhile to dissipate.
Not surprisingly, Fast Paced World, The Duhks’ latest outing, doesn’t really do much to propel the group forward. In fact, the outfit actually is forced to retreat somewhat from the seamless ebb and flow of Migrations. At the same time, though, it’s clear that the ensemble’s setback will be only temporary. Throughout the collection, The Duhks trades some of the subtler tendencies of its previous endeavors for a more aggressive sound. In particular, drums and percussion play a much heavier role in the composition of the album, where, for example, they enhance the air of determination that winds through the title track and add to the eerie atmospherics of This Fall. Elsewhere, some songs are given a flair of soul-pop, while other cuts move The Duhks into the realm of the Indigo Girls.
With a stronger emphasis upon instrumentals and folk-imbued arrangements, the latter half of Fast Paced World places The Duhks onto more familiar terrain. One of its trademarks is to create medleys of traditional material, and near the endeavor’s conclusion, the band offers a fusion of The New Rigged Ship, Cumberland Gap, and Paddy on the Turnpike. Elsewhere, the laid-back, New Orleans-imbued, folk-and-soul groove of Sleepin’ Is All I Wanna Do (Stars on a Sunny Day) borrows heavily from Po’ Girl’s repertoire.
In the end, Fast Paced World ought to be considered a transitional affair. Although it clearly demonstrates that The Duhks is well on its way to overcoming the obstacles that have fallen in its path, the set also fails to coalesce in quite the same fashion as Migrations did. Beneath the surface, however, it also shows how mature this young band already is.
Of Further Interest...
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2008 The Music Box