Reviews

Duke Garwood
Garden Of Ashes

(Heavenly)

7/10

For his sixth album, Duke Garwood serves up a slow and subtle collection of blues songs. The production and orchestration are cleaner and crisper than they’ve ever been on any of Garwood’s previous records, making for an easy listen that breezes by in three quarters of an hour. It’s so smooth, in fact, that you can miss the grim spirit that runs through it. Garwood sets his grisly croon to dark love songs set in desert heat; the title Garden of Ashes is apt.

At the start of his career, Garwood was primarily known a talented multi-instrumentalist with famous fans, but his recent work, as a solo artist and with Mark Lanegan, has positioned him as a consummate bluesman. It’s a fitting role. Garwood’s voice, reminiscent of Nick Cave’s evocative baritone, is a natural match for the genre. But Garwood’s experience has trimmed away some of the interesting, unpolished sounds you found on early work like ‘Dreamboatsafari’, where he sounded like an autodidact feeling his way around. Now, he sounds like a veteran.

Being a veteran ultimately proves to be a good thing here; it gives ‘Garden of Ashes focus, lyrically and musically. Garwood sings constantly about suffering under a hot sun; his voice beautifully captures the exhaustion that comes with over exposure. The music channels the same languor, moving along at a steady, soulful pace. The album’s best tracks are its two lead singles, ‘Coldblooded’ and ‘Coldblooded the Return,’ joint songs that open and close the album respectively. The former is a straight and simple blues the latter incorporates all the anxieties that have grown over the course of the record. Garwood is right when he sings, “Lonely songs will echo here long after we leave.” ‘Garden of Ashes’ lingers after it finishes, and will be sure to reward repeat listens.

Support Loud And Quiet from £3 per month and we'll post you our next 9 magazines

As all of us are constantly reminded, it’s getting harder for independent publishers to stay in business, which applies to Loud And Quiet more now than ever, 14 years after we first started printing a magazine that we’ve always given away for free.

Having thought about the best way to support the costs of what we do (the printing and server fees, the podcast and video production costs etc.) we’d like to ask our readers who really enjoy what we do to subscribe to our next 9 issues over the next 12 months. The cheapest we can afford to do this for is a recurring payment of £3 per month for UK subscribers. If you really start to hate it you can cancel at any time. The same goes for European subscriptions (£6 per month) and the rest of the world (£8 per month).

It’s not just a donation – you’ll receive a physical copy of our magazine through your door, and some extra perks detailed on our subscribe page. Digital subscriptions are available worldwide for £15 per year. We hope you consider this a good deal and the best way to keep Loud And Quiet in your life without its content, independence or existence suffering.