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Doug Hoekstra

BLOOMING ROSES • Doug Hoekstra

Shut my mouth, I believe Doug Hoekstra, Nashville's bard laureate has a single, here. (At least one.) The title song of Blooming Roses has the soothing earmarks of a great song that bears well under voluminous plays. At least that's how it sounds on my player, where it's been well spun. Hoekstra is both a wise and crafty artist. The thing about a soft singer (an understatement, in this case) is that it's easy to play them over and over. Ears are supremely fatigable (the cliché obscene sound systems of too many blacked out Escalades notwithstanding) and sounds like a purring Wurlitzer, a smoky B-3, and a string section are a welcome antidote to the never-ending noise of the world. And so is a quiet voice assured of its penetrating words. (Doug does rock, however, on a couple of cuts on Blooming Roses, notably on "Part Of The Problem, Part Of The Solution" and "Your Sweet Love.")

Few producers like David Henry know how to deliver an artist like this, how to frame and voice these artful songs and this unrelenting whisperer. It's no wonder Europe has embraced the artist even more than the States, where our stomach for celebrity and myriad versions of high school talent shows and popularity contests seem to have no bounds. Indeed, the high pop art here and the care within seem otherworldy in comparison. The generous and rather brilliant use of vocalist Nirva Dorsaint-Ready is a point well taken, and the inclusion of Bobby Bare Jr. on backing vocals an artistic surprise on "Disrepair."

The bands swings in a palette of moods, and Joe Rathbone on guitar turns in some noble tracks. That's a lot to say when Hoekstra's usual axeman is no less than George Marinelli, on the short list of truly fluent guitarists. George drops in on the first two cuts, two of the best. Pauls Slivka and Griffith on bass and drums are noteworthy (sic) throughout, fretlessly and skinfully impeccable. Barry Walsh added a lot of keyboard juice on the trio of cuts he showed up on. There were a number of other cameos that we bid you check out at the artist's website, where one can gather all the credits and all the lyrics, for a change. For audio samples check out our Listen page, as well as Doug's myspace page.

Hoekstra is fiercely quiet; you don't have to shout when you're actually saying something. And his beautiful music thrives at any volume. • Frank Goodman

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