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A Review of Roger D'Arcy's 'House Of Heads'

Updated on April 17, 2018
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Ikenna Chinedu Okeh is a poet and novelist. His books are available in all major ebooks stores. He lives in Lefkosa, North Cyprus.

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I have always had a thing for Country music. Not only do they offer some kind of sensational transport, but they tell deep stories in their lyrics accompanied with sparse instrumentals arranged in such a manner as to display a sheer mastery of skill. I had thought the genre to have gone with the generation of Kenny Rogers and Don Williams, but it wasn't until I came by Roger D'Arcy that I had a rethink about my stance. Without a doubt, the genre isn't lost to our generation; this is my conviction after my encounter with Roger D'Arcy's album, 'House Of Heads', and I'll take a moment in telling you about my listening experience.

I had thought the genre to have gone with the generation of Kenny Rogers and Don Williams, but it wasn't until I came by Roger D'Arcy that I had a rethink about my stance. Without a doubt, the genre isn't lost to our generation; this is my conviction after my encounter with Roger D'Arcy's album, 'House Of Heads',

It begins with the track titled after the album. Roger's voice is sedative and makes one think of opulence. It flows along with the guitar strung in such a rhythm for which Country music is universally known, and accompanied by a subtle bass beat. His lyrics narrate and are quite suggestive in meaning. Great track. It's very much similar to 'Something Going Wrong', next on the list. The guitar is equally beautifully strung to a Country rhythm against a subtle bass beat and I'm intrigued as the intro pauses abruptly for the vocal to hop in. Such musical acrobatics! You should see how it made me cheer within. I like the instrumental interlude predominated by the flute, and the violin that lends it a sublime feel; obviously to suit the lyrical reference to angels: "... something's going wrong when your angels don't stay ..."

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With the next track, 'Michael', comes the introduction of a female vocal. Though it's obviously restricted to a complementary backup role, yet I couldn't help but follow up on its melodious feel. Captivating should be a closely suitable qualification for it. Talking about its instrumental quality, I'll point out to the subtle drumbeat that contributes an animated tempo to the rhythm as fast-paced as Country music can technically be. No need saying, Roger's voice remained uncompromisingly rich and beautiful in its rendition of the narrative lyrics.

He is evidently experimental with his musical composition as he infuses elements of Jazz and Rock into Country music.

It is crystal clear that the album is Country. Yet Roger must have considered contemporaneity in his composition of it. He is evidently experimental with his musical composition as he infuses elements of Jazz and Rock into Country music. You can notice it in the track 'Time Flies' with the Rocky-styled drumbeat. The trombone comes in very rich and complementary, contributing a Jazz-y feel to the musical mix. In my opinion, 'Time Flies' is a confluence of flowing Rock, Jazz and Country. Quite noticeable also is the sparse composition of sound instruments so sorted as to achieve a sublime delivery of musical accompaniment for Roger's full and sedative vocals.

"Unlimited talk time, nothing to say," says the chorus of the track, 'Unlimited Talk Time'. I would suggest you never miss out on the lyrics as they address an issue prevalent in our time irrespective of the corner of the world; that of the internet and mobile telephony. Perhaps you have never noticed that we have so much time to talk, converse and communicate. But do we really communicate? Has all inventions and innovations aimed at bridging the bounds of space achieved their intent in fostering better and unhindered communications and interactions within the global human community? Should we attribute this to abuse? These are amongst questions that may come to your mind. But first you will have to listen to 'Unlimited Talk Time' rendered by Roger's unique vocals complemented by another woman's. There's this ambient play in the background, of a voice talking over a phone. It sort of lends a theatrical feel to the song besides underscoring its theme.

... you will have to listen to 'Unlimited Talk Time' rendered by Roger's unique vocals complemented by another woman's. There's this ambient play in the background, of a voice talking over a phone. It sort of lends a theatrical feel to the song besides underscoring its theme.

In 'Tumbling' comes this violin accompaniment that sorts of lifts the spirits skywards; at least that's how I felt. There's something blissful about the sound of a violin in the hands of a skilled player. I felt the same way listening to 'Tumbling'. Not only that, the drumbeat sets this rhythm that makes you nod and tap along. Both the violin and drumbeat are inlaid in the background, offering support to the guitar strung as Country music is known for. Of course, Roger's vocals are as expressive and rich in this one. The mood gets slowed down in the next track, 'Whistle Up Some Atmosphere'.

There is a perceivable change in style with 'What's It Like To Be Me'. Unlike in the others, it is the vocals that introduce the song. The lyrics are clearly poetic with this one too.

'A Million Stars'. I noticed Roger's consistent vocal quality with this one even when raised a pitch higher. Again, a subtle drum beat enriches the rhythmically strung guitar.

Oh, and 'New York' stands unique; at least lyrically. Roger does this "la la la la la" in the chorus. It might sound simplistic yet it has a thrill for me. The lyrics are narrative of some happening told melodiously. The track ends playfully. Theatrical, really. A touch of originality. It's quite much like 'Ordinary Man'; fast paced, lyrically narrative, and instrumentally ingenious though composed of sparse sound instruments. You can't help but connect to the effortless delivery of this offering of remarkable music. The back-up vocals is mimicry, musically adventurous. It reminds me of some medieval clownish minstrels at play. Of them all, this one sticks out for me.

If you liked music by Kenny Rogers or Don Williams, it is a sure bet that you will like Roger’s ‘House Of Heads’ in a much different way.

There are many things I may not have pointed out in this album. The bottom-line however is the fact that I've saved it into me 'favourite music' folder in gratitude that in this time, we still have one of the best of country musicians amongst us. 'House Of Heads' is worth the listening experience. If you liked music by Kenny Rogers or Don Williams, it is a sure bet that you will like Roger’s ‘House Of Heads’ in a much different way.

© 2018 Ikenna Chinedu Okeh

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