A subtler Eddie Vedder. James Vincent McMorrow minus the falsetto. Neil Young with less twang. Analogies abound for veteran singer/songwriter Charles Dusel, whose newest project, Lonestar Sailing, elicits many folk comparisons, but is tough to separate from the blue collar Buffalo, NY setting it so intimately evokes.
There’s something so pure and so honest in these ten songs on the Lonestar Sailing EP that really rings true to rural northern New York. From the soft guitar chords at the root of each song, to the constraint behind every lyric, Lonestar Sailing delivers sincere sentiment from the start to the finish. Dusel’s tonal intimacy resembles an earnest pastor addressing his congregation and the overall effect is solemn yet heartfelt.
The clear Christian themes may turn off listeners apposed to dipping into the holy water but these are in no way annoying church songs. Dusel carefully choses his moments to sing halleluiah and when he does it generally works. Sure, these are songs about faith but they’re also about struggle, regret and defeat—universal topics almost anyone can get behind.
No song on the EP is ever flashy; the debut effort is very much a sum of its parts. This generally works when taking in the album as a whole but can detract casual listeners looking for easy access, and Dusel is probably quite all right with that. “Where Did All The Children Go” is the closest thing to a single with a chorus worth repeating: “Where did all the children go, some have grown and some have gone away. Where did our families go, they’re down the road but we still don’t know, away.”
It’s the following track “We’re Happy” that sees him at his most vulnerable: “Plastic pills from a mannequin, to clean the dirt off your skin, push the cart, lift with knees, don’t touch me with your disease because we’re happy to be monotone and all alone.” Dusel delivers the song with the weariness and earnest feeling of a downtrodden traveler—a perfect summation of the EP’s desired effect.
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