Jay Ducker is an indie folk artist of sorts based out of Norfolk who just released a very solid album titled Country Sober. In said release, Ducker provides his listeners with very calm and collected yet passionate and emotional songs which explore personal experiences such as breakups and uncomfortable thoughts regarding the nature of existence.
Although this album is delicate, it is certainly not weak. On the contrary, Ducker has a unique voice that it is soft and easy yet still retains a sense of authority, and as such, possesses a nice sense of clarity that makes it easy to listen to. Throughout the album, Ducker consistently sits within a pretty consistent vocal range and doesn’t explore the versatility of his voice too much, however, with that being said, the sound which he provides lends itself really well to what Ducker is comfortable with doing. As far as pitch is concerned, there were no problems and the silky harmonies which Ducker employs adds a nice facet to the overall sound.
I really enjoy the constant contrast on the album between the ethereal, spacey atmospheres and natural sounding acoustic guitar. It provides a very human yet very adventurous, explorative feel which I can certainly appreciate. Songs such as “Wild Life” and “Pendulum Hill” do a good job demonstrating this. Although Ducker’s voice is always the focal point of each song, the airy atmospheres which surround them permit a full, encapsulating sound.
As far as production goes, I would say it’s pretty stellar. The music itself isn’t too complicated, and I think the production does a good job making the most out of a sparse amount of instruments and sounds. In pieces such as “The Painter Of The Sky,” very little is going on, but at no point did I feel like anything was missing anything. The production is warm and gentle, which fits the mood of the music very well and certainly adds to the oftentimes bleak nature of the album.
Onto the subject of improvement, there really isn’t too much to say except that I would like to see Ducker explore the capabilities of his voice more, and perhaps lean more on the darker side of his songwriting. My favorite two songs on the album, “Wild Life” and “Geyser” both have an ominous feel to them and in my opinion they also present the strongest and most direct message not only thematically but also musically.
Again, this is a very solid release, and Ducker should be proud of this one. It is honestly quite beautiful, and I am very impressed with the quality of songwriting from beginning to end. If Country Sober is the beginning to a longer musical journey, then I would say that the ride should be both worthwhile and rewarding.
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