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Musical year in review – April: Michael Feuerstack & Associates – Singer Songer

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For the month of April I’m choosing Michael Feuerstack’s record “Singer Songer”. For as long as I can remember I’ve been hearing great things about Snailhouse (Feuerstack’s old nom de guerre) and hadn’t really found anything that caught my attention, but now I realize what all the hype was about.

What initially drew me to this record was that it was actually billed as Michael Feuerstack & Associates, with guests like Bry Webb, Leif Vollebekk and John K. Samson providing vocals for songs that Feuerstack with each of them in mind.

The presence of a unique voice on each track makes this album feel more like an expertly curated compilation than a record composed by an individual. The songs have a continuity that great records from a single artist strive for, but each song also presents a brand new narrator to carry Feuerstack’s story.

While collaborative records are really nothing new, Feuerstack’s approach to engaging guest musicians feel less like an attempt to harness the marketability of his more successful peers and more like a genuine experiment in song writing, challenging his understanding of each guests.

On the opening track he succeeds in getting Matthias Kom of the Burning Hell to sing a song that lacks any noticeable sarcasm, no easy feat. Farther along in the record, Feuerstack seems to have a premonition of where Bry Webb was headed on his next album as “Did I?” bears a striking resemblance to the energetic shuffle of Webb’s first single “AM Blues”.

More than anything Singer Songer shows off how well Feuerstack know his associates. Like the kind of gift that only a true friend would know to buy you, these songs highlight the best parts of each of Michael Feuerstack’s friends.

Here’s a link to a great video where the aforementioned Matthias Kom explains the pronunciation of “Feuerstack”.

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