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Album Review

After purging the experimental, Nick Drake-influenced Phantom Moon from his system, on his fourth release it's back to business for singer/songwriter Duncan Sheik. But some remnants of Phantom Moon — winding song structures, romanticized lyrics, and lush orchestrations — reappear here, albeit in a more pop format. Producer Patrick Leonard, like Rupert Hine, who worked on his popular debut, frames Sheik's haunting, breathy voice with elaborate arrangements. That makes these ornate songs huskier, but it also interferes with the singer's plaintive style. Borrowing tricks from John Mayer, whose success can partially be attributed to doors Sheik himself opened, the ballad-heavy disc emphasizes the singer's introspective side. Straightforward strum pop tunes like the leadoff track, "Genius," and "On a High" (the first single) neatly frame the passionate, string-laden ballads that dominate the proceedings. Sheik's ability to weave word-heavy tracks into melodies that withstand their weight exhibits his songwriting talent. On the downside, the intricate production and multiple overdubs create a chilly, anonymous backing at odds with his sumptuous voice and meticulous lyrics. But the songs are so consistently strong and the singer so obviously committed, most of the album's shortcomings are insignificant. If the participants hadn't tried so hard, this would be a minor masterpiece. As it is, Daylight is an ambitious and generally successful singer/songwriter effort, especially for those who already have bought into Sheik's lovelorn persona. Its flaws won't dissuade the faithful, but they will prevent the album from being as successful as the artist had intended.


Born: 18 November 1969 in Montclair, NJ

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Alternative singer/songwriter Duncan Sheik premiered in mid-1996 when Atlantic released his self-titled debut album. With an appearance on the soundtrack to the TV hit ER, Sheik became somewhat well known in alternative circles. Born in 1970, Duncan Sheik grew up in South Carolina but spent many of his early years living with his grandparents in New Jersey. Inspired to play the piano while there, he later moved to electric guitar and performed in bands throughout high school. While studying at Brown...
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Daylight, Duncan Sheik
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