Bartees Strange

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Live Forever (2020), 6.5/10
Farm to Table (2022), 4/10

Oklahoma-raised Washington-based producer and singer-songwriter Bartees Strange debuted with the mini-album Say Goodbye to Pretty Boy (2020), a set of nine covers of The National songs.

Live Forever (Memory Music, 2020), produced by Will Yip, dabbles in many styles, from the dilated ballad Jealousy to the noisy (but tuneless) rocking single Mustang; from the thundering horn-laced soul-rock of In a Cab (a standout) to Boomer's hybrid of trap beat and grunge riff; from the ghostly electronic ballad Flagey God (another standout) to the romantic electronic litany of Ghostly. Kelly Rowland does not amount to much in its attempt to fuse neosoul and hip-hop, but the explosive crescendo of Far is a creative update of the stereotype of the singer-songwriter of the 1970s.

The slickly produced Farm to Table (2022) was a disappointing follow-up on which the collision of those disparate genres yielded mostly confusing, faceless and sometimes embarrassing songs. At the two opposite extremes, it boasts the a-cappella gospel-soul hymn Hennessy and the trap-rock Cosigns. A truly uninspired collection. Hold the Line is supposed to be a touching elegy but sounds like Bruce Springsteen at his most whining worst.

(Copyright © 2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )