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Doug Keith’s Sophomore Album “The Lucky Ones”: To shine or not shine a light? reviewed by Iman Lababedi

Doug Keith’s second solo album, The Lucky Ones, is a just about perfect piece of work. One flawless, lovely, moving song after another for forty minutes and not a mistake, not a naff moment, not a second that isn’t unarelled in it’s beauty, it’s intensity, the song for the words, the words for the song, the arrangement, from back ground to front, from violins to acoustic guitar.
So what’s wrong with that.
I’ll tell ya. What’s wrong with that is, what next? We call it the Freedy Johnson syndrome. In the early 90s, Freedy followed up Can You Fly with This Perfect World . When those two didn’t break him he was left with what he has now.
And while, soundwise, Keith may be closer to an Elliott Smith than a Freedy, I’m not even certain about that. I can imagine Keith covering “The Farthest Light” and if  The Lucky Ones has an antededent it may well be Johnston’s Blue Days Black Nights -which did absolutely nothing.
Still, in 2010 all it takes is a song to catch on.
When I first heard Keith’s title track I thought: that’s good but that’s one. And when I heard “The Echo Will Fade” , with it’s anomatopiac chorus (I know, what I mean is what Keith is singing, is what the chrous is doing: the echo effect is an echo of sound effect), I thought that’s clever but that’s only two.
But every sing song is this good. “The Lowest Low”(don’t shine one -leave it alone!!)  and “Don’t Let the Darkness Overtake You” -sad songs about happy things!! “We Left Everything” an autobiography heartbreaker which seems to seek out the truth in a summer memory. It is subtle and moving at the same time: an intimate sharing of a private moment. . Keith uses other voices where words won’t do it and the song  builds slowly one instrument at a time so it is working on your unconscious. All three songs are moving beyond belief. And I COULDA CHOSEN ANY OTHER THREE SONGS AND WRITTEN THE SAME FUCKING WORDS.
Keith, a Minnesota native and (hardly a shocker here) a Replacements fan, moved to San Francisco where he played bass for punk rock trio  the God’s Hate Kansas, before another band, some experimental stuff, a realignment to NYC and a first solo album, 2008’s Here’s To Outliving Me, which I haven’t heard and which have critics searching out Dylan (Dylan? That’s a reference for people with no field of reference), Neil Young, Tom Waits. 
Maybe, but on The Lucky Ones I can’t really hear any of them, well maybe Harvest here and there . Perhap sit’s a little late for points of reference. Doug has paid he’s dues, and this stand alone as a collection of finely crafted, well executed, simply but absolutely orchestrated tracks which are all of a piece and which works singular or together as an astoundingly consistent album. It will absolutely be among my best of 2010.
It is released  out Tuesday and Doug is playing Mercury Lounge Tuesday, March 30th at 730p (tix at the door). I didn’t particularly fancy it when my friend Inge Colson of Presshere, his press office,  invited me, but I agreed to review it because I’d do anything for Inge. Now, I can not wait and it is me who owes Inge a favor.

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