What to make of this one? I have to admit I simply don't know. Not much of a review, true, but seldom have I encountered anything quite as . . . umm . . . unique (yeah, unique - that's it!) as Long Dog's "Heads 'n Tails."
It's definitely not a blues album, of that much I'm sure. Nor is it rock, or folk, or . . . well, anything. It's just Long Dog.
Hailing from Denmark, Long Dog - Lars Bo Jensen, Lennart Larson and Jan Andersen - would appear to have extremely eclectic tastes. There are discernable influences here ranging from Tom Waits to The Band, from Taj Mahal to Johnny Cash. But even the tracks that do qualify as straight blues - "Love Trouble" and "I'm A Bluesman" are both bouncy twelve-bars - are filtered through either a post-modern irony or simply fractured by an incomplete, albeit loving, understanding of American roots music.
Musically everything here is relaxed, with lots of acoustic instrumentation, doghouse bass and brushes on the skins. All eleven tunes are originals, and while they're both printed and sung in English, I can't make out whether their world view is consciously skewed or, again, simply lost somewhere in translation. Every time I think there's a knowing nod-and-wink at work (the quasi-Tex-Mex sounding "Doreen"), I'm confounded by what appears to be a sincere take on classic forms (the easy-going shuffle of "My New '62 Corvette").
Part of the trouble is the vocals; it's simply impossible to tell whether they're serious throughout or are trying too hard for a world-weary quality that doesn't quite match what can best be described as slightly surreal lyrics.
Yet for all that I can't get a handle on "Heads 'N Tails," I quite like it, largely due to the catchy arrangements that manage to be layered without ever sounding crowded, with an appealing acoustic warmth. I just don't know whether to take it seriously or not, and on that basis don't know whether to recommend it. Let's leave it at this . . . if you're feeling adventurous, Long Dog are definitely worth checking out. If you prefer the tried and true and familiar, stay clear of this one!
Caveat Emptor . . .
Blue Planet Productions
Kildehusvej 11, 4000 Roskilde.dk
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