High Wire Dancer fails to defy death.
Few albums have been as aptly named as Antje Duvekot's The Near Demise of the Highwire Dancer. Though there isn't enough risk involved here to create true drama for the listener, Duvekot puts on an excellent show with her sweet voice and highly skilled songwriting ability, as she has a gift of creating extended metaphors and using them well -- sometimes even in surprising ways. The opening track, "Vertigo", does this particularly well, "I lie about the vertigo / And I have never been up this high / There'll be no safety net / When I fall right out of the sky / There'll be no ambulance waiting / And I have no wings to fly." This song also features instrumental variety and vocal layering that help bring it to life. On the other hand, "Lighthouse" lyrically works a metaphor throughout a song yet remains a completely forgettable track. What may ultimately prevent listeners from holding their breath, however, is Duvekot's voice itself. While it's pleasant, it's virtually indistinguishable from other folkie female singer-songwriters (namely Shawn Colvin). Similar artists who have distinguished themselves have done so through unique guitar work, truly outstanding lyrics, or a personae that transcends their music. While Duvekot will have no trouble finding a plush home within the folk community, she lacks the extra elements that will help her make truly death-defying music.