ALBUM REVIEW: Duke Special “Oh Pioneer”

Peter Wilson has built himself a loyal fanbase over the years for his alter ego Duke Special. The multi-instrumental singer and songwriter has always been able to balance musical sensitivity, humour and good old honest storytelling within each of his endeavours-whether for his official album releases; “Adventure in Gramophone” (2005), “Songs From The Deep Forest” (2006) and “I Never Thought This Day Would Come” (2008), or his more recent musical collaborations-which include his role in the National Theatre’s production of Brecht’s “Mother Courage And Her Children”, so it is somewhat of a surprise to find the humour left on the shelf in the favour of a more sensitive leaning on album number 4,”Oh Pioneer”.

While that might at first sound like a criticism, it is not meant as one. “Oh Pioneer” is a perfectly enjoyable listen, and had it not been for his earlier form, would have wowed in an instant. The eleven strong collection makes for an effortless listening experience, and while it is charming it lacks the charisma and bite that really set Wilson apart from his counterparts.

At its lowest ebb, the glib “Little Black Fish” drones on for far too long, losing any initial appeal the tender ballad holds. While the promise of spoken “How I Learned To Love The Sun” loses itself in a mass of noise. However, the troubadour’s latest effort is redeemed by the allure of “Punch of a Friend”, and the uplifting “Always Been There”

Perhaps with the bar raised so high with his earlier efforts, it was inevitable that Wilson would eventually release an album that is not up to his normal high standards. For the majority of contemporary artists, “Oh Pioneer” would mark a career high, but for a man of Wilson’s calibre, it is somewhat of a sad letdown.

Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams 

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