Review Summary: A fantastic album that will leave you Barely Breathing
In early 1996, in metropolis studios in London (where many famous artists have recorded albums including, Queen, The Stone Roses and The Verve, to name a few). An unknown artist by the name of Duncan Sheik with his acoustic guitar and his heavy Oasis influenced voice and interesting musical composition, was writing his first album. Which eventually became his self titled album 'Duncan Sheik'.
The leading single of the album Barely Breathing, was a relative success and stayed in the Billboard Hot 100 for 55 consecutive weeks, which is a record, and an impressive achievement for a young up and coming artist. The album was also generally well received by reviewers and gained him a cult following. So what makes this album so successful, and yet so unknown that only a handful of people have heard of his name?
I'll start with the easier part. The album has a beautiful flow from beginning to end, an album that has so many memorable songs which is unusual for an acoustic album. That isn't saying it's a perfect album but in my opinion the album has no filler. Every song is so well constructed and the lyrics so thought provoking that he can bring tears to your eyes and put a smile on your face in the same song. The depth of the songs is also impressive for a debut album, the use of strings in songs like "Days Go By and November" and Piano on "Reasons For Living and Out Of Order" add a real sense of atmosphere to the songs. The stand out song for me is 'Reasons For Living', and I can't even explain why. It reminds me a little bit of In Between by Linkin Park, and lyrics like "Even my wonder, even my fear, Only amount to a couple of tears." brings a lump to my throat.
Now onto the harder part of the question I raised earlier. My own personal opinion is that I believe the reason the album is so unknown is the same reason he is so well received. Of course there are always contributing factors towards success, Luck and good advertising being 2 of the reasons, and maybe Duncan Sheik didn't get much of either. But I also believe that he is so unique, that it attracts a small niche market, that a lot of people don't understand or are not even looking for. He is one of the few artists that it's hard (almost impossible) to find similar artists to him. The only slight influence I can hear at times is Oasis (mainly on 'In The Absence Of The Sun'). There are similarities to Gavin Degraw and John Mayer, but even then Duncan Sheik draws on other sounds to make his music his own. His lyrics are unique, the chords and song structure he uses is unique, and in turn the album is very hard to define under a genre. Another problem I feel it may have is that as good an album as this is and rates highly in my books as one of my favorite albums. I can't see it ever being someone's favorite album.
In conclusion, I would rate this as high as albums like 'Continuum' by John Mayer and 'This Fire' by Paula Cole, and is definitely an album worth checking out if you like either of those albums. And even if you don't know much about more acoustic styles of music, you can't go far wrong with this album and is one that will always be in my classics.
She Runs Away
Reasons For Living
Out Of Order