“This brand of outlaw folk blends perfectly with the theme of life and liberty being ruled by a roll of the dice.”
Artist: Andy Palmer
Album: Hazard of the Die
Genre: Gritty Folk Rock
RIYL: Nick Cave, Johnny Cash, Vic Chesnutt
The raspy, expressive baritone of singer-songwriter Andy Palmer provides an immediate pull into a world of robbery, death and struggle between sin and salvation on Hazard of the Die. Palmer’s backstory includes a stint as a New York City public defender, which informs the poetic justice that infuses his songwriting style and lyrics. This is outlaw folk; Palmer’s gravelly delivery taking center stage in a well-produced and balanced set of songs.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to select an opening track that eases your audience into the style and substance that represents you as an artist. With “The Monk,” Palmer heeds this advice by showcasing both the full strength of a powerful baritone and the surprise of a well-placed falsetto. “Heart of Colfax” bears a nod to his current city of Denver, a historic and well-traveled road that runs straight through the city. The reference to the bars, venues, people and thoroughfare once dubbed the “wickedest street in America” is evident here as well.
“Good Son” is a highly appealing track, embracing the strength of Palmer’s vocals with a backing band that feels like a freight train running. “Moreya” brings more of a classic rock sound reminiscent of a “Prove It All Night” Springsteen. Passionate and engaged, reaching into the expressiveness that his vocals naturally create, this became a favorite after repeated listens of the album. But the true standout is “The Defendant,” a tale for the wrongly accused, replete with lines like “the cards are stacked against me being nice/and a man in a robe is rolling my dice.” It’s instantly memorable, and finds its footing in the first note. Palmer references this song in a press release as inspired by watching someone in court being remanded to Rikers Island and witnessing his blood-curdling scream in a silent courtroom. And you can imagine that scene with this song as a soundtrack behind it.
This is truly the “gritty folk rock” that Palmer promised. With that promise, he delivers a distinct sound that separates him from the average singer-songwriter. This brand of outlaw folk blends perfectly with the theme of life and liberty being ruled by a roll of the dice. Hazard of the Die is a record that shows depth, a flair for storytelling and an ability to capitalize on Palmer’s best asset, a voice with strength and character.
Andy Palmer website: http://www.andypalmermusic.com/