Never mind the genre – great music is great music. In the new album, Sanctuary, Chicago’s Kevin Durr cultivates a righteous blend of harmonies and thought-provoking lyrics. Capturing the listener’s whim with simple grooves and elongated orchestrations, it’s hard to box-in Durr’s sound. And you shouldn’t. The way the songs move on Sanctuary is that it’s a calling to be outside – a return to nature. There couldn’t be a more perfect time, then Autumn to lesson to these dewy bass lines, crunchy guitars and lively violin and cello strings. It’s like waking up to a Thomas Kinkade painting, or as simple as watching the world go by from a park bench. Sanctuary centers you.
The imprint of the covid19 and the lockdown on Durr’s writing is evident. In the title track, he sings come inside, we all can hide, you’re welcome any time, it won’t be long and we’ll be strong. what I found so soothing about his voice is his optimism. You have to place yourself in his writing room, putting pen to paper for the first time. Over a year ago, we were hearing those keywords (it won’t be long, stay strong) over and over. I think “Sanctuary” in a wonderful way, is a time capsule song.
Listen to Sanctuary below
One of my favorite tracks, “Neverland” has such a gentle soul to it. It’s an endearing song, and I loved the laissez fair vibe. He sings there’s no need to have a plan, and I kind of like the view here. It’s at this point in the record, where Durr cements his artistic imprint. He’s a rare breed that was able to use the time being isolated or withdrawn to really connect his listener. “Neverland” is a fun escape, and a nice sonic stop. He doesn’t make you chase him in different directions and off-kilter sounds. He really stays true to his core artistry.
In “Feel That Heartbeat” and “High Flyer”, two other standouts, Durr continues down a colorful, textured path. “Feel That Heartbeat” has a quicker, almost Cheap Trick beat. I loved the pop hints and the driving rhythm guitar. This was definitely a hum along, and toe-tapping tune.
“High Flyer”, the last song on the album, is also a faster tempo, a deeper beat. I liked the melodic guitar work, and the way that Durr closes out the album with a barn burner. I think this song is a look at the government and even social media and its downside. You wouldn’t know it’s a sinister song by its sound, but when you hear lines like keeping your mind under control, stealing your heart, your very soul, it’s hard to not be on alert. In a world of protest songs and 1984 comparisons, it’s encouraging to know that artists are just as concerned with Big Brother. It’s just a theory – but “High Flyer” could be completely about something else. I was very impressed.
Listeners should also give the lovely “First Snow” and “All In All” some extra spins. Sanctuary receives high marks all around.