The Upshot: Equally at home rocking or brooding, the songwriter conveys a brutal appreciation for the human condition in all its contradictory beauty and tragedy.
BY FRED MILLS
Although this Sedona, Ariz., based songwriter/rocker has an intriguing enough backstory—runaways, drug addiction, robbery at gunpoint, and self-imposed exile in the desert all figure heavily—to give writers plenty of journalistic hooks, all would be for naught if there wasn’t music to go with the personality. Don’t worry about the overly stylized single-word name. (It’s decker. With lower case text and a period at the end. Which wreaks havoc on search engines, apparently.) He’s got plenty more words to share with you.
Six albums and seven years in, decker. is equally at home rocking or brooding, both of which figure on the five-song EP Snake River Blues. Opening track “The Holy Ghost” takes the former approach, with a straightforward uptempo arrangement melodically and rhythmically descended from “Train Kept A-Rollin’”; it’s a powerhouse number, the kind that a band can open a concert set with and instantly having people at the bar jerking their heads around and the rest of the audience pushing towards the stage. Meanwhile, on “The Black Widow,” he sets the dial on, indeed, “brood,” with a spooky, nocturnally-tinged Bad Seeds-esque rumination. And the cinematic title track, a pounding, crashing, echo-and-reverb drenched blues, turns out to be the perfect closing number, the kind destined to leave fans gaping and gasping, before they erupt in stunned cheers.
In the case of Snake River Blues, less is definitely more, because all five songs are borderline brilliant. No need for any additional songs; you’ll want to cue this up successively, over and over. Singing in an edgy, at times haunted-sounding tenor that can become a spine-tingling yelp or wail in an instant, decker. conveys a brutal appreciation for the human condition in all its contradictory beauty and tragedy. It’s not hard to imagine him crouched on the edge of a dusty, ragged pueblo out in the middle of the desert at midnight, cursing the moon and the spirits while giving thanks for simply being alive.
DOWNLOAD: All of it.