Album Review: Doug Burr – O Ye Devastator

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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.

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