Is it folk? Is it rock? Stop—you’re both right.
O Ye Devastator, the latest album from Denton, TX, troubadour Doug Burr, is a study in how people should simply give up when it comes to attempting to categorize an increasing number of artists who like their folk and rock separate from one another, as much as they do when its rolled up into one insanely pleasing concoction.
Burr brings the noise, but he does bring the folk, as well. There’s a plucky, rambunctious quality to “Red, Red,” where the banjo bounces giddily across the tune, and “Do You Hear Wedding Bells” is a pastoral, orchestral number that is as sweet as it is heartbreaking.
Does the inclusion of a few, quiet numbers make a folk record? I think not. Especially when, of all things, an instrumental—the contemplative, electronic and atmospheric “All Our Lives”—finds it’s way into all of the commingling of elements, both folky and revved-up.
Similar to Joe Pug, Josh Ritter and even Cory Chisel, Burr can go from introspective to anthemic in a few seconds flat with not only ease, but believability to boot. As evidenced on not only this latest release, but his On Promenade album from a couple of years ago, Burr and other artists like him occupy a sneakily varied space of the musical universe where literate tales of love and courtship can rock out with reverb-drenched fervor, as does “At the Public Dance“.
When that tune ends with a spacey, fuzzed-out jam that boasts all of the bombast of an Explosions in the Sky number, it can be hard to see where folk truly fits in.
Hint: it really doesn’t. And that’s okay.