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Harsh, Final.

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Album Review

This, Danny Saul's debut solo album, is a thing of beauty. And just like true beauty, it takes its time to unfold, disclose itself, and charm. It's only once you let yourself fall under the spell that its beauty becomes obvious to you. Saul is a singer/songwriter, but he works in a timespan usually avoided by his fellow folksters. On Harsh, Final, the average song length is ten minutes. Moods get set, electronic textures are developed, arrangements build up, and only then come the vocals (almost six minutes into "Your Death," for instance), subdued, soft spoken, but emotionally charged. The songwriting, attention to atmospheres, and equal importance devoted to the song, its delivery, and its studio dressing strongly evoke David Sylvian and Fovea Hex, with a hint of Peter Broderick thrown in, and maybe an influence from Peter Hammill's quieter, studio-centric side (Fireships, Thin Air). Ben Frost's The Theory of Machines also comes to mind, although Saul makes prominent use of the acoustic guitar as a foundation instrument. The highlights are "Clockwork" and "Cannonball," the latter a slow-boiling, 13-minute song escalating to a powerful bottleneck guitar climax. Tacked at the end of the album, almost as an afterthought, is a cover of Hotpants Romance's "Stop Escaping," approached in a raw guitar-and-vocals way that makes too much of a contrast with what came before. That minor point aside, Harsh, Final is a focused effort, each track flowing seamlessly into the next, in a hazed disbelief-suspended mood. Beautiful and very impressive. ~ François Couture, Rovi

Harsh, Final., Danny Saul
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