Dakota Suite The Hearts of Empty

Dakota Suite The Hearts of Empty
Since surviving his first decade as a well reviewed, if overly compared (usually to Mark Eitzel and Mark Kozelek), singer/songwriter, Chris Hooson has been refining and redefining his melancholy, plunging it into the waters of instrumental composition. On this third album for Karaoke Kalk (and tenth overall), the biggest shift is away from the strings that anchored the movement on The End of Trying and Vallisa. They are mostly replaced by David Buxton's brushwork on drums, which swing the heartache, rather than offering it a shoulder to cry on. Many tracks rely on the classic drums, stand-up bass and piano jazz trio set-up, stirring nostalgia for Bill Evans' pop-inflected playfulness. Recorded primarily in a close, dry, reverb-free manner, the acoustic instruments sit on your collarbone and whisper in your ears. They are good, if occasionally moody, company for long commutes or solitary meanderings. (Karaoke Kalk)