Sam Densmore & Curtis Irie - Quit Work Make Music (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
PORTLAND, Oregon-based songwriters Sam Densmore (Silverhawk) and Curtis Irie have delivered their debut album Quit Work Make Music and entertain in fits and starts.
Singer/songwriter and music producer Sam Densmore has been a musician his whole life, teaching himself guitar and eventually earning a BA degree in music composition in 1996. A self-proclaimed Rock n’ Roll Renaissance man at heart, he decided to record an album with Irie after the two embarked on an 18-date tour of south central Alaska.
Irie, for his part, is the leader of the Portland based rocksteady/blues/reggae band, Irie Idea, and between them, their influences run the gamut from modern indie folk and rock, to blues and early Jamaican music.
For Quit Work Make Music, they have drawn on several of these influences to create a diverse collection of eight songs – some of which impress massively, others which underwhelm.
Things begin brightly with the REM-esque It’s All Been Said, which adopts a bittersweet rock vibe, while Old Ghost boasts an enticing mix of rhythmic, pulsating guitar melody and barreled vocals, while also showcasing the duo’s songwriting prowess. The track is about growing older and feeling invisible in today’s youth oriented world.
The Jamaican influence creeps in on Who?, which actually drops one of the weaker vocals on the LP and never quite convinces as the best songs on the LP do.
But Sunday Dinner is an enjoyably lo-fi, bar-friendly sing-along that showcases the duo’s sense of humour (and has a Beatles-esque vibe vocally), while Oregon Blues, as its name suggests, drops a tremendous blues vibe complete with hum-dinging harmonica and slick guitar-work (of the classic, Deep South variety).
It’s just a shame that when the album is capable of reaching such highs, the duo are sometimes content to come over all troubadour and average with offerings such as A Song About Fish and Flea Circus Star, which may well showcase more of their sense of humour, but which instrumentally and vocally struggle to capture the imagination.
Like we said, a mixed bag – but one worth checking out for its standout tracks.
Download picks: It’s All Been Said, Old Ghost, Sunday Dinner, Oregon Blues