The Duke Spirit - Sky Is Mine

by Ljubinko Zivkovic Rating:7 Release Date:2017-08-25

The Duke Spirit has been around for a while. Sky Is Mine is their sixth album, and by now, Liela Moss and the guys should already have a clear picture what musical direction they want to take. I’m not sure whether they do, and you can’t attribute it all to "a change in direction," because The Duke Sprite has taken a few already.

While the album is produced by the band themselves this time around, you can definitely feel the influence of the guy who produced their previous one, Kin, from 2016 - a certain Mr. Simon Raymonde of Cocteau Twins. The inclusion of Josh T. Pearson (backing vocals on one track) and Duke Garwood (seems just his guitar on the closing track) might lull you into thinking that this is a subdued, almost quite album.  Liela herself contends that this is sonically the most tender record the band has done. Since I’m not familiar with most of their work except the Covered In Love EP from 2006, it is hard for me to say, but Sky Is Mine is in no way a late night listen. Unless, of course, you like your shoegaze sounds on a more brash side, most of the time, at least.

Not that there’s anything wrong with giving your music a more rocking twist, nor is there anything particularly wrong with most of the songs here. Actually, there’s not a single one that you could say falls below a certain musical standard. The playing is tight and classy, and Liela’s vocals are exceptional, no matter what you give her to sing. It is just that most of the tunes here need an additional zing (more pepper and salt?) to make them truly shine.

Of course, there are a few standouts on Sky Is Mine, and it is actually the more tender or stripped-down songs like “The Bones Of Proof” with its strings and guitar backing, or “In Breath” with its Raymonde’s style guitar and an excellent chorus. The John T. Pearson contribution “How Could, How Come” is probably the best song on the album (could even sound good as a single), followed closely by the closer “Broken Dream,” on which Duke Garwood is only in a supporting role but on which The Duke Spirit is able to create that Garwood-like late night atmosphere.

So, an above average affair that needed just a few extra touches to make it exceptional. Not this time around, but hopefully, the next.

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