Doug McCurry & The Verticals II

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Doug McCurry & The Verticals II is my introduction to Doug McCurry, and it’s a wide berth to the ears, which would put anyone on the trail to hear more from this Pop singer/songwriter who crosses both Americana and alt. rock boundaries in a few places, and what he likes to call “quirky” on the album which blasts off with the opening cut “She’s Running” and it really gets the album off and cooking, so to speak. Of all the tracks on this album, it holds up to any of them and most likely comes in as one of the overall strongest tracks, but that takes nothing away from other songs on the album.

“Pretty Eyes On Fire” follows in the same fashion with some great guitar effects and an overall better vocal from McCurry. It keeps everything going with the same qualities and values of the opening track. It’s about something his old friend Fred said, and the rest is left up to the imagination. McCurry’s voice resonates much differently on “Precious Rose” which is in my top three picks on the album. This is where I realized McCurry is an undeniably great songwriter. It’s an absolute slab of perfection in every way. There’s a serious side to McCurry and it starts to show in this song.

The ability to fly one way and completely take off in another direction is proven on “Sugar & Lies” with one of the more interesting and laid-back tracks on the album. I like the way he repeats the line, “sugar sugar” which is surely reminiscent of the Archie’s classic hit. There’s things about Doug McCurry that remind of those days where everything from bubble gum to show bands were the thing of the day. It gives you the feeling he likes the same songs and stuff his fans do. If you listen closely you’ll hear some inflections that prove what I’m saying. It has that retro-active vibe because McCurry himself does.

The second half of the album brings a few changes, and that starts with the enormously satisfying sounds of “Bossa Nova 4-2” on a track that is not what you’d expect to hear thus far on such an album. But it’s a welcome change in tempo because the song is a lovely piece with McCurry singing a light hearted vocal over some exquisite piano playing. It does the business to keep your undivided attention, and that’s really-just tipping the iceberg about it. I could go on and on about this track, but space doesn’t allow it.

“That Josephine” is not only the funniest moment on the album, it rocks as hard as any other point he manages to make. It shows the grungier side of McCurry’s songwriting and playing, so, it’s as vital to the album as the rest of the songs. And that includes “Devils & Crosses,” “No One Recalls Gary” and the final track which closes the album out in grand fashion with “Floating On The Wind.” He leaves the picture with a track that sounds vastly inspired by the 70s hit “Seasons In The Sun” by Terry Jacks, which is a much better idea than covering the old song. Top marks to Doug McCurry.

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Jeff Turner