Dutch April

George Usher

Parasol Records, 1998

REVIEW BY: George Agnos

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 06/07/1999

I think George Usher is one of the finest songwriters today. What sets his music apart from others is his unique lyrical perspective. And that, combined with a knack for writing stick in your head melodies make him an artist that is definitely not to be missed. Usher's main inspriration is the jangle pop of the sixties band the Byrds, and while there is a vocal resemblance to Roger McGuinn, his songs rarely sound like that band.

His latest release is called Dutch April, and he starts the CD on a very strong note with "My Life With Jack The Fool", the only really humorous song on this collection, about a guy who hangs out with a con man. Guitarist Doug Larcey gives this song a very tasty jangly guitar line.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Larcey is one of the better guitarists in the pop-rock world, and seems to give Usher a different sound for each song while still maintaining a flowing melodic style. For example, take the second song on the CD, "Before The Next Bell Rings", which is an eerie rocker that abruptly changes the mood of the CD. Here, Larcey provides a heavier guitar sound that fits well with Usher's high, creepy vocal.

But it is Usher's lyrics that are the star of this show, and I like any song that starts out with the lines "When I decided to give away the moon/Someone provided a darker afternoon/It took them longer to cover up the sun/But they were happy to be getting something done". Dutch April is full of unusual passages like that.

Another example is on the song "Wooden Nickel" which starts off with "Time and time again the guiding light is lost/In the never ending rumble/Of the voices when the border can't be crossed/Cause its dark enough to stumble". As you can see, Usher is no ordinary songwriter, and you are not going to get one those repeat the title a hundred times type of song from him.

Still, Usher does know his way around a pop melody. The rocker "Why Don't You Say What You Mean?" would not sound out of place on the radio. "You Better Let It Go" and "Begging For Rain" are the most Byrds sounding songs on the CD and should please their fans. "Orpheus Turning" is very catchy and not as weird as the title suggests.

There are a few flaws to Dutch April. Two of the ballads, "I Can Still See Her Eyes" and "Another Fall From Grace", are not as memorable as Usher would have liked them to be. Although they are heartfelt, they are overlong, dragging the pace of the CD. "Violent Courtship" is a pretty good rocker, but Usher's voice is a little too soft to really put it over effectively.

If Dutch April isn't as tight as it could be, it still is a worthwhile CD to purchase. Usher's music keeps getting better and better with each release. In short, Dutch April is a very good CD that is a couple of killer ballads away from being a great one.

Rating: B+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


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© 1999 George Agnos 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 Parasol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.