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coverpic flag US - Washington - Full Moon 101 - 12/26/04

Ken Stringfellow
Soft Commands
Ryko

Ken Stringfellow is a good bloke. He's always been. Always will be. That said I must admit I'm not all too comfortable with his latest solo effort, Soft Commands.

I just missed Mr. Stringfellow's visit to Oslo last week, where he threw another peculiar show. Two hours and a half or so I've been told, of strange intimacy. With Stringfellow on and off stage. Being around out there chatting, interviewing the audience in one moment. Invitating people up on stage in the next. Perforing some of the songs with scene lights out. A slight resemblance with last time (?) he did a solo show in Oslo (wow, it's been five years since!?).

Opening song "You Drew" starts as a ballad by the piano for then to boost into a full band setting. More ballads follow, but they keep being ballads, which Ken is good at. But it somehow gets a bit... stand-still? Dull? And after a while I drift away when trying to keep focused while listening. Of course there are songs to "wake me up", such as the Beach Boys-harmonies of "When U Find Someone". And "For Your Sake" is one of his finest moments. But when he slips into soul with "Let Me Do" I do get huge problems to follow. "Don't Die" rocks and reminds me a bit of latter days Posies, and "Je Vous En Prie" is a nice, cabaret-ish love song. Another jewel to be (guess I must let this disc spin some more times) is "Know Diamond".

I'm sorry to say but I was disappoited with meeting Soft Commands. There are of course golden pieces and tender moments. But I feel that 'happy' is out the happysadness I used to love.

Copyright © 2004 Håvard Oppøyen e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Ken Stringfellow articles/reviews: "Anything could happen" - an interview with Ken Stringfellow, Jukebox Pop-Quiz! Cologne, 2001, Paradiso, Amsterdam, Holland, 29.3.2002, So What!, Oslo, March 13th 1999, an interview in Seattle.

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