Variety is the spice of life, they tell us. However, it may be possible for food to be too spicy for its own good. If the spice overwhelms the natural flavor of your meal, it’s often worse than being too bland in the first place. The same can be said of music, too. Ken Stringfellow’s new album Danzig in the Moonlight is one extremely spicy dish.
Stringfellow is best known for his role with Northwestern power-pop band The Posies. With that group, various guitar rock textures highlighted its overall sound. Solo albums, however, have a way of bringing about the variety pack in performers. That was certainly the case with Danzig in the Moonlight, for better or for worse.
You don’t get much Posies-like music on this new effort. Instead, there is a kind of piano-driven thing like “History Buffs,” as well as a Harvest-era Neil Young like “110 Or 220 V,” which is harmonica-colored and folkie. Stringfellow even comes off more than a little angry during the quite vindictive “Shittalkers.”
Although it’s difficult to find much sonic consistency on Danzig in the Moonlight, it’s still mostly a joy to listen to. Stringfellow has a warm singing voice, and he’s written a stellar bunch of songs to sing. It’s impossible not to love a song like “Drop Your Pride,” for instance, which rolls with an Old World European feel with its accordion, saucy brass section and Stringfellow’s no-holds-barred vocal. The Posies were never quite this Bohemian, that’s for sure.
There’s plenty of good stuff on Stringfellow’s latest solo voyage, and you may well find yourself admitting, ‘Wow, I didn’t know he could do that!’ Clearly, Stringfellow has entered a sort of post-rock era in his career if this release is a sign of things to come. Maybe it’s just age that has given him the guts to do pretty much anything he darn well pleases, just because he can. With that said, it sure would have been nice to hear him pick a favorite style and stick with it. Yet just when that sticking point begins to nag at you, though, the song “Pray” comes along and finds Stringfellow doing a spot-on Al Green impression, which makes you want to say that all is forgiven. Your opinion may waffle here, even from song to song, but you’ll never ever wallow in disappointment. Nor will you get bored.