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Sturm; Matthias: Blood And Thunder

When I was sent Blood And Thunder, which is the debut album by Matthias Sturm, I was at once (due to the positive press he and this album have been receiving since its release) intrigued. Maybe it was the expectation that such positive rumblings inevitably brings however I can't begin to tell you just how hard I've found this album to engage with.

Sturm operates firmly in singer songwriter territory, with the vibe evoking Dylan at every turn, although to fair there are also huge dollops early Pink Floyd and little droplets of The Beatles added for flavour. So far so good I hear you say, and so you should. These are stellar influences, especially when Sturm's voice reminds of Bowie and Roger Waters. However no matter how hard I try, I just can't get past just how earnest everything on Blood And Thunder is. To the extent that I yearned for any hint of non-ironic humour to appear at some stage. That said, I'm sure this is exactly the impression Sturm was hoping to give, but to me it makes for an album that feels aloof and uncaring as it passes comment on modern society.

What is impressive however is that the whole experience sounds 4 or 5 decades old. Not retro, but genuinely old, just with a modern production. The arrangements are intentionally simple, with unfussy drums, straight and sparse guitar lines and the odd bit of keyboards. Also added to the mix are the likes of penny whistle and grand piano, which further the authenticity of the aged feel of things. With Sturm's voice coming from the "I can't sing" style of singing - ala Dylan - this really does sound like an album that was dusted down from someone's attic and dropped on the old record player. In fact you almost subconsciously add the crackles and pops that vinyl would give! Even that however doesn't save the French language sung "L'Heure", or "Pierrot", or the English language "Mister" or "What A Day" becoming lost in a sea of highly crafted quirk, which to these ears sounds extremely contrived.

Fans of Dylan, or even The Beatles may find something here to reel them in, but for me, this is an album that feels cold, leading you to care less and less about it with every listen.

Track Listing
1. Mister
2. Blood And Thunder
3. What A Day
4. Homesick
5. Baxter Galoway Meets Mr Handsome
6. Heart On A String
7. Peace On Earth
8. Pierrot
9. L'Heure
10. Crow Food

Added: April 14th 2012
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Matthias Sturm at CD Baby
Hits: 1638
Language: english

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