Blood’s Too Rich might surprise a few folks, especially the ones who are already Luke Doucet fans. His first couple of albums weren’t far from what you’d expect from someone who’d worked with artists like Chantal Kreviazuk, Oh Susannah, and Sarah McLachlan. 2001’s Aloha, Manitoba and 2005’s Broken (And Other Rogue States) had beautiful moments, but didn’t flash much muscle. Blood’s Too Rich, on the other hand, is dominated by full-bodied arrangements and sharp country-rock guitar.
With that in mind, maybe Doucet’s having a little bit of fun by starting the album off with a delicate acoustic intro before breaking loose with the stinging guitar of “Long Haul Driver”. With its lyrics about taking the truck and driving away from a lover, the song establishes a wanderlust that runs throughout Blood’s Too Rich. “First Day in the New Hometown” chronicles Doucet’s move to Nashville and his new life as a musician there (“Let’s go see if Grimey’s home / Hey mister, can you spare a rock show”), while “Motorbike” ponders leaving everything behind for wide-open vistas. Even “The Commandante” (one of the disc’s highlights, with its locked-in South-of-the-border horns and strummed guitars) has the feel of an expatriate watching a new world swirl around him. That shouldn’t be a surprise, since Doucet apparently took a solo train ride across Canada at the tender age of 11, but it’s rare that an album with this much itch in its walk sounds so comfortable.
Blood's Too Rich
US: 24 Jun 2008
UK: 4 Feb 2008
Part of that cohesiveness obviously comes from Doucet’s time in Nashville, as Blood’s Too Rich flashes tasteful bits of twang left and right. However, Doucet is coming from the singer-songwriter/rock side of Music City, rather than the slick country side. “Cleveland” opens with the faintest traces of the Beatles’ “Don’t Let Me Down”, while the dirty, bluesy guitar and keyboards of “Beacon on the Southpaw” recall vintage Steely Dan. “Take You Home”, for its part, absolutely wallows in Crazy Horse guitar fuzz. There’s even a cover of the Cure’s “The Lovecats”, which either works or doesn’t, depending on how much you miss the vampishness of Robert Smith’s vocals. As it stands, Doucet’s rendition is pretty faithful, although it becomes strangely reminiscent of Crowded House, especially during the queasy “Sister Madly”-type guitar solo.
It’s a shame, then, that the album trails off a bit at the end. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the last two or three songs, but they’re not as distinctive as what comes before. It’s a weak ending to a strong record that reveals facets of Doucet’s talent that he only hinted at on previous releases. With the delicacy of his previous two albums and the vitality of Blood’s Too Rich under his belt, Doucet might just belong in that class of artist from whom we should expect great things.
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// Notes from the Road
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