Dukes of Kent — Welcome to the Oast House
(Sugarbush Records SB300, 2012, LP / DL)
by Henry Schneider, Published 2017-06-27
Lets start with the title. "What is an oast house?" you might ask. An oast house is a special building for drying hops, a critical step in brewing beer. The negative image on the album cover is a photo of the oast house at Cherry Tree Farm, Frittenden, Kent, UK. How this all relates to the music on the album, I haven’t got a clue, just some interesting trivia. The Dukes of Kent is the core duo of Chris Gussman and Sugarbush label owner Markus Holler. They started playing around with the songs as a lark in 2010 and slowly evolved them from jam sessions to demos to actual songs. As the songs matured, they recruited Iain Rae (ex-Gallagher and Lyle) to play piano on “Blue Turns to Red” and “Limits of the Truth” as well as adding drummer Pablo Videla on most of the tracks. And to top it all off Pink Floyd’s engineer Andy Jackson mastered the album. The result is an excellent set of nine singer-songwriter songs with touches of Caravan, Roger Waters, Strawbs, and West Coast country rock like New Riders of the Purple Sage with some experimental psychedelia popping up here and there. The album opens with “Already Gone” with a slight reference to The Wall, and edgy, slightly raspy vocals, and a tasty electric guitar solo. “Runaway” takes a dash of Caravan, tremolo guitar, and vocal harmonies for a very melodic pop / psych / rock song. “Limits of the Truth” is a sad West Coast country rock song with a superb electric guitar solo. As I listened to “When I Needed You” I was reminded of an early Strawbs song “We’ll Meet Again Sometime.” “Blue Turns to Red” is a day after song about drowning your sorrows, a wonderful blend of country and psychedelia with the song ending with feedback and experimental sounds. “Ever Day Brings Something New” features harmonica and baritone vocals similar to the Soft Hearted Scientists, as well as another great psych rock guitar solo. “Lay My Burden Down” has a 70s acoustic guitar retro sound that takes me back to my youth. “Water” is another acoustic guitar song that veers into the experimental realm while remaining melodic. And the album closes with “Angels and Ghosts,” an excellent country folk singer songwriter song that made me think of Townes Van Zandt, plus another cool electric guitar solo that takes off! This album is for fans of the six-string guitar and West Coast country rock.
Related artist(s): Dukes of Kent
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