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Brendel; Doris and Lee Dunham: Upsidedownworld

The booklet in this second album from singer Doris Brendel (once of The Violet Hour) and guitarist Lee Dunham (Primary Slave) is a luscious delight crammed with beautiful pictures and nursery rhyme/fantasy tale visuals. It even has a fold out "flavour menu" as though it's a box of chocolates, where every song is described as "Multi-layered chocolate stack getting spicier on the way down", or some such thing. However so packed, so crammed, in fact so unwieldy is this booklet, that as soon as I attempted to liberate it, the pages burst free from the digi-pak, taking the glue holding everything together with it in the process.

And so it is with Upsidedownworld, an album which hopes to be some things to some people, other things for others and everything for everyone in the process. Which is a shame, for in here somewhere is a great Hard Rock album (as found on the opening cut "The Devil Closed The Door On Me"), a superb Pop album (let's nominate "Adored" for that), a classy guitar album (just about every lengthy song intro, or outro, where electric forays jostle with poised acoustic beauty), or even a funked up strut of pouting proportions ("Slap Me And You Die", for example). However with sections of backtracking, sound effects galore and even Electro-beats and synths coming to say good-day, what begins as overwhelming, eventually becomes a little tiresome. Truly it's a shame, because the level of skill on show means that each and every aspect does generally (the Electro stuff is all a bit naff), come off, but whether that genuinely means you want to listen to it all in one sitting, or even have it interrupt a playlist with its, "yes, we can do that too, didn't expect that did you?" ethos, is another matter altogether.

Brendel is a stunning singer, possessing a voice rich, powerful, gritty, full of character and Dunham is a superb guitarist, handling all of the disparate styles as though they are all he ever plays, while the likes of drummer Steve Clark also puts in a stellar shifts from start to finish. However bring it all in to the same place, at the same time, and it's hard to work out whether you're listening to an exercise in showing off, a lack of self restraint, or simply the inability to decipher what makes a few good songs against what makes a top notch album people want to savour.

I'll certainly listen to aspects and parts of Upsidedownworld (the title maybe suggests the pair in question do understand the topsy-turvy journey they've pieced together) again, for in places it is utterly brilliant. However will I be likely to liberate the booklet and CD from its now limply hanging digi-pak for another full run through? Now that I'm not so sure of…

Track Listing
1. The Devil Closed The Door On Me
2. Adored
3. Slap Me And You Die
4. Accessorise
5. Tumbling Away
6. A Little Act Of Defiance
7. Upside Down World
8. Still Running
9. Life Is A Mushroom

Added: April 12th 2015
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Doris Brendel online
Hits: 1711
Language: english

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