Baxter Dury - The Night Chancers
Mar 20, 2020 (updated Mar 20, 2020)
Not reliant on a certain suave or calm demeanor to get his point across, Mr. Baxter Dury, with the aid of his compatriots provides an album that thrives on straightforwardness but is beautifully constructed. Dury’s gravely voice is tasked with delivering stories spun out of irritation, disgust and love, choked full of crude grievances and vague sentiments. All of these unusual but familiar features compile for one fascinatingly irreverent display of sarcasm and surprising musicality.
Descending from a line of musicians, Baxter Dury’s father was a musician who obviously inspired his like-minded son into his profession, of traveling from pub to pub with a message relevant to people of many different backgrounds and identities. Call him a rambler or spokesperson for those whose voices are rarely heard, Dury is a brooding master in his compositions, spinning down-to-earth tales (maybe a little to earthy) in a manner inharmoniously but with the gravitas of his speaking voice that is immediately attention-grabbing. Take the instruments and electronics away and Dury might as well be a spoken-word artist. In fact, Dury is more punk-minded than many so called punk artists who claim the genre; his cadence doesn’t resemble that of a punk artist but his attitude certainly does. A sort of raw-honesty defines his music with the addition of an assortment of instruments to faithfully back him. A drum-kit providing rhythm through both fast and slow tempos, a slinky bass guitar popping in from time-to-time, piano passages gliding wistfully a few meters behind Baxter, and surprisingly the presence of an orchestra that provides some satisfying relationships in the project.
A worthwhile comparison between Baxter and King Krule could be made (i.e. the cockney) and Baxter as a slightly more aged King Krule. Whereas a King Krule song is more enveloping, Baxter is slightly less cerebral, but nonetheless memorable.
Upon cracking open the project and observing its product, the listener is absurdly greeted by “I’m not Your Dog”, a fierce proclamation of freedom from controlment, but even though he proudly states that he is not someone’s dog, from the listeners perspective he sounds very much like a dog barking back with a plenty of harsh rebuttals. All the while his backing band complements his speech with precise execution. Baxter when he is not barking waxes poetic on many an occasion such as on “Slumlord” and the tender “Hello I’m sorry” or the 70s thriller-esque aesthetic of the title track with its weaving narratives.
Without Baxter’s ever-present band in the background, his voice wouldn’t be heard as loud as without it, the addition of the band provides a pedestal for him to stand atop of and be heard, amassing more attention. The Night Chancers is a fascinating album to behold, its as beautiful as it is filthy, and that is the juxtaposition that will continue to have me returning to it.
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