Duncan Sheik

AntiFragile Music , 2022

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


Any long-time reader of the DV—and of my contributions—knows that I’m a huge Duncan Sheik fan. Duncan Sheik is Honey Badger—he just don’t care, and he does what he wants. He alternately writes songs that critique his own audience (“Shopping” from White Limousine), records an entire album of 1980s covers, and wins multiple Tonys (Spring Awakeningmy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 ). He has brought both Alice In Wonderland and American Psycho to the stage… and written his own musical (Whisper House). Somewhere in the midst of all this, he’s managed to knock out a bevy of albums while dabbling in multiple styles.

The latest quail in the bevy is Claptrap—and once again, the musical chameleon has shifted styles slightly. It’s both more spiritual and more funky, a tuneful smoothie of pop catchiness and deep thought.

Claptrap starts off with “Experience,” and it seems a seamless continuation of “So There,” the last track on his album before this, Legerdemain. “Experience” talks about both consulting and believing in one’s spiritual leaders, whoever they are, and in following one’s own experience, and it’s food for thought.

“Smoke And Mirrors,” another powerful track, seems to be about being who one is as compared to being what others expect. “Unaware” is a powerful, arching ballad about accepting one’s own lack of wisdom, and “Out From Underneath” counters with a Buddha-like rejection of ego. (As a side note, this seems to be Sheik’s most transparent album spiritually; he has been a practitioner of Nichiren Buddhism.)

The prime cuts, though, act in perfect counterpoint to each other. “There’s No Telling” kicks off with a funky bass and piano, then spins a dark tale of excess, loss, and regretting past actions. Meanwhile, “Maybe” claims there is hope, that we can come out of the darkness around us, and there is something decent to believe in. They’re both magnificent.

Look, I like Duncan Sheik—but I like him because he’s so damned good sometimes. This is definitely one of those times; check out Claptrap today.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2023 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of AntiFragile Music , and is used for informational purposes only.