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Kramies

The European

(Hidden Shoal Recordings; US: 20 Nov 2011; UK: Import)

Kramies Windt is on to something here. The songwriter’s debut five-track EP for Hidden Shoal marries wafting synth textures and an acoustic guitar bedrock to well-honed direct songcraft, making every cut a keeper.  Kramies’ efforts (aided by longtime collaborators Dave Paolucci and producer Todd Tobias) are best realized on the title track, where his journey to stirring-anthem Valhalla finds his voice first recalling Tim Booth of James before ascending to full-on Bono territory.  Elsewhere, the chilly expanse of “Coal Miners Executive Club” and its comforting refrain of “We can pace ourselves” swirl inside the head, and “Antiquarian Days” evokes John Lennon at his most reflective. Unlike some more well-known peddlers of similar aesthetic pedigree (Coldplay, I’m looking at you), Mr. Windt’s grand sweeping gestures are never empty, and his hooks are never cheap. It’s no wonder that with each subsequent listen, I find myself enjoying The European more and more.

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