There’s little shocking about Ken Stringfellow‘s third solo album, Danzig In The Moonlight, but that’s not a bad thing. Stringfellow, best known for his work with The Posies as well as his contributions to Big Star and R.E.M., is a pop lifer, and the best songs on his latest sprawling solo effort stick closest to his tried and true melodies and hooks. Stringfellow’s gentle sensitivity, his lullaby drawl, and his knack for a soft melody are all on full display on keepers like “110 or 220 V”. The opening line, “‘I could really know you and I never really want to,’ is what love says to me,” sees Stringfellow traveling through time and space, in one of his best songs to date.
At 14 songs and 54 minutes, not everything works as well, which feels like part of the point. Danzig In The Moonlight is as much exploratory as comforting, and Stringfellow flashes muscle as arranger and producer throughout, piling layers of sound on “Jesus Was An Only Child” and “Superwise.”
Elsewhere, the blue-eyed soul and stax horns on “Pray” make for one of the less convincing moments, and a few songs of the 14, including “Odorless, Colorless, Tasteless”, fall short, but others, like the country-tinged duet with Head and The Heart singer Charity Rose Thielen on “Doesn’t It Remind You of Something”, feel like natural choices for the dynamic Stringfellow.
Danzig In The Moonlight is a fine display not just of Stringfellow’s taste for a pop hook but of his fresh take on songwriting. What makes Danzig In The Moonlight more than just a pleasant album is the veteran songwriter’s taste for finding new angles on familiar, well-traveled pop subjects. And then sometimes, there’s just pure sugar. “You’re The Gold” is just that, a golden melody for a sweet voice. It’s what Stringfellow still does best.
Essential Tracks: “110 or 220 V”, “Doesn’t It Remind You of Something”