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At the age of sixteen, Doug Burr heard his calling; he picked up a guitar and hasn’t looked back. Since then, the Denton, Texas resident has led (and disbanded) a group called The Lonelies and released three albums under his own name, most recently 2007’s critically lauded On Promenade. On May 4th, Burr will let loose his fourth LP courtesy of Velvet Blue Music. The intriguingly titled O Ye Devastator is a stirring collection of eleven new songs dotted with slide guitar, banjo, and Burr’s spectral vocals–a surefire pleaser for fans of both the Son Volt/Jayhawks school of rootsy alt-country as well as those partial to the folksy reinventions of artists like Devendra Banhart and Mark Kozelek.
“Red, Red” is the fourth cut on O Ye Devastator and begins with a clatter of drum sticks and the tartness of banjo strings. Burr’s voice soon cuts through the mix with its tremulous inflections, his timbre colored by an emotive and distinctive quavering. As “Red, Red” moves through its first passages, Burr and his associates stealthily tighten the musical backdrop. By the time the listener is treated to the snare drum’s cannonade, more than halfway through the song, the build up and accompanying climax is of a hefty, satisfying sort. It is a quintessential example of how to create drama and release in songcraft–not through bombast or orchestral layering, but through simple intensity and musical acumen. Doug Burr is a shrewd songwriter but he’s also a gutsy one, crystallizing moments into notes which resonate long after they’ve fallen silent.