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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Andy Palmer - Hazard Of The Die

Andy Palmer – Hazard Of The Die
2013, Andy Palmer
Andy Palmer has been making music all of his adult life.  As front man of Colorado folk/rockers Grub Street Wine and as a solo artist, Palmer has earned critical and commercial accolades.  Palmer was named to’s Top-20 Independent Artists for 2011 and 2012.  His debut album, Sometime Around, won a Best of Denver Award in 2011.  This month the former Brooklyn public defender returns with his sophomore effort, Hazard Of The Die. 
Palmer opens with “The Monk”, an intriguing story song with heart-beat like rhythm and syncopated beats.  This arrhythmia lends interesting texture to a bit of observational songwriting that is off the beaten track.  Palmer’s voice is enigmatic and full of muddy timbres that give him a world-weary feel.  It’s an effective presentation that will stick with you.  “Heart Of Colfax” is a bluesy, angular rock tune with a bit of funk in its roots.  It’s a fun tune with a bit of a twisted sense of humor running through its veins.  The character perspective plays like an urban style Randy Newman, and the tune is ultimately catchy.  “Broke Down In Bellevue” is a down-tempo ballad steeped in blues chords and a lightly swung chanson style.  Palmer is a disaffected narrator here, laying out the pin points of desolation on a musical map for all to see and hear.
“Good Son” finds Palmer opening up the arrangement into a more pop-friendly rock sound.  The spoken-word vocal works well in the wide open sound of the song, with Palmer surfing his way through the song on an enigmatic vocal performance.  “Moreya” is a solid piece of balladeering pop.  It’s a bit bland and reserved compared to what’s come before, but is a solid album track.  Palmer goes bilingual (English/Spanish) on “Hay Algo Muy Mal”.  Palmer struggles here, as the song is cut from the same low-energy cloth as “Moreya”.  He recovers his energy and musical quirkiness on “The Defendant”.  The song is understandable repetitive, but the repetition does become a bit much.  At the same time, Palmer offers up some of his best guitar work on the album her.  Hazard Of The Die takes a bow with “Fancy That”, an energetic and funky rocker that will have your toes tapping and your hips grooving.  Love becomes its own economy of scale here, and the story is irresistible. 
Andy Palmer won’t sit well with everyone.  He’s voice is definitely off the beaten path, but Palmer uses his instrument to best effect on the eight songs presented on Hazard Of The Die (Think Leonard Cohen meets Tom Waits).  Palmer continues to use stories and ideas from his career as a public defender in his songs and the result are an entertaining and eclectic collection of character based songs ala Randy Newman.  Palmer’s composition style jumps around a bit, but the angular guitar work seems to be a trademark.  Hazard Of The Die will certainly catch your attention, and if you’re a listener of lyrics and a fan of story-based songs, then Andy Palmer will be right up your alley.
Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)
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