Life Ain't That Long

Rich Krueger

Rockink Music, 2018

http://www.richkrueger.com

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 09/17/2018

Though this might be Rich Krueger's first album, he's been playing with his band The Dysfunctionells since 1985, as well as recording with Peter Stampfel. With that much experience, it's really about time he put his name on a proper album.

“A Stoopid Broken Heart” starts the listen off with a sparse guitar and fiddle before moving into fuller folk and Americana warmness, where pedal steel complements Krueger's mountain-esque, rough vocals. “The Gospel According To Carl” follows with sophisticated keys and, much like the first song, it builds into a larger arrangement with accordions, trumpets, and a fleet of background vocals. “'77/17” finds Krueger and company at more of a classic rock juncture with biting guitar solos and blues rock, punctuated by hammond organ and saxophones.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Some of the best tunes here reside in the middle, such as the upbeat and fiddle precision of “A Short One On Life,” which sounds the song The Blues Traveler forgot to write, and the cultured, playful “Then Jessica Smiled,” where backing female vocals, a standup bass, and harmonicas really make this one of the most varied offerings.

The second half of the album begins soft and introspective with “Can't See Me In This Light” before moments of loud percussion meet the dreamy backing vocals, making this probably the closest pure rock song here. “The Wednesday Boys” is the closest to jazz, with seven minutes of breezy, dreamy, calmness, and as we near the end, the album drifts into soft rock territory with “What We Are,” which would be ideal for any easy listening station on the FM dial.

It's not too often you'll hear a strong debut album from a 58 year old, but few people have the storytelling ability and songwriting chops of Krueger. Similarities to Randy Newman and Van Morrison are inevitable here, and even if Krueger thinks that life ain't long, what is long is this album, with many tracks surpassing the five minute mark. Thankfully, Krueger's gospel of country, rock, R&B, and jazz is executed well enough to keep us entertained for the entire trip.

Rating: B

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