By starting in a familiar style before veering off in an interesting direction, this album can’t fail to grab attention
The new album from Boston-based multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Dietrich Strause grew out of a writing retreat in the middle of Lake Winnipesaukee. Opening track The Beast That Rolls Within has a distinct alt-folk sound to it, akin to Fleet Foxes, but just as you begin to settle in for a familiar stroll down Americana lane, the Bublé’-esque Lying In Your Arms completely changes the album’s course, almost as if Strause opened up the Great American Songbook mid-flow.
From here on, the record flits between these two genres. Songs like Boy Born To Die sit on the one side whereas Rainy Days and The Dove evoke the feel of high school dances and band practice. A middle ground is found on the plaintive Home From The Heartland and the subtly orchestral Spring Has Sprung. During these moments it feels more like a natural union of styles rather than two albums that have been spliced together.
At its best, such as on the dramatic Around The World and the funereal The World Once Turning, How Cruel That Hunger Binds is a bold move from Strause that is matched by memorable songwriting. The juxtaposition of genres may feel glitchy in places, but you have to applaud this change of direction.
Verdict: The Great Americana Songbook