Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Rocker Nigel Dupree Is Up To No Good

With straight-up rock albums so few and far between, it probably seemed like a good idea to release Best In Show by Jackyl and Up To No Good by Nigel Dupree on the same day. But it wasn't.

The concurrent release is detracting from Nigel Dupree, son of Jackyl frontman Jesse James Dupree, instead of giving the album some extra lift. The connection has proven much more promising on the road as the father and son tour together, but there is still a risk that some will miss what is happening here.

This isn't the same Nigel Dupree Band that conjured up memories of 80s rock and roll in 2009. Up To No Good shows more standalone promise, especially from Nigel Dupree who sounds more and more like a brawling, soulful Southern rock performer than a throwback singer.

His vocals have matured considerably. The band's lineup has changed since their initial introduction. And although Up To No Good feels a little slow instead of like a breakout album, Dupree has set himself in a better direction.

Dupree sounds more soulful and less like a revivalist.

Three years ago, Dupree really wanted to show that rock and roll can carry a smoother sound than the rattling angst that became the standard one decade later. I don't know if he has that opinion anymore. The debut was too simple for its own good. Up To No Good adds some missing swagger.

In advance of the album in June, Dupree released the first single (on the same day Jackyl released a single). I didn't think much about it when I first heard it then. But after hearing the album, it made sense as a reintroduction. If nothing else, Tumbleweed proves Dupree has the right pipes.

The song also has a classic kickback Southern rock sound. It's a good tune to set the benchmark, even if it doesn't have any standout moments for instruments. The real attention is given to Dupree's voice, highlighting the Southern grit you might expect from Kennesaw, Georgia.

Contrast that with the first track, Attitude. It has more power, better hooks, and is a stronger song for it. It can easily be cast as a three-chord Southern rock song, alternating between verse and sing-along chorus. It also has a great riff and memorable solo kicking in halfway through the song.

Way down the track list, Blur is a great small town girl meets worldly rocker closer. It chugs along steadily but eventually works in another guitar solo. During live shows, it's not uncommon for Dupree to throw in some extra finesse. Either way, Blur lingers after it's over.

Along with those, check out Chooser, a rock ballad of sorts about drifting apart. Like Control, which covers the fears and frustrations that come with growing up, it's about change. Change is easily the most common thread on the album.

Change is also why you can expect great things from Nigel Dupree.

Dupree, naturally, grew up with music. He was so immersed that sometimes he would join his dad on tour and if he didn't make it home on Monday, they asked his teachers to FedEx his homework. It was this upbringing, a stark contrast to his dad's experience, that attracted Nigel to a career in music.

He and his dad remain close, and it's no surprise that his dad has been very much involved in the work. But as much as things have stayed the same, other things have changed. Dupree isn't the kid who looked starry-eyed after playing the stages once populated by his 80s rock idols.

Nowadays, he owns the stage and you can hear it in the music. While the debut was technically fine, the new release proves Dupree feels the music too. Kudos to the new lineup too. David Buchanan, Alex Foretich, and Sebastian Anderson lend something new to the music that I didn't hear before.

Up To No Good By Nigel Dupree Beats 4.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

If Nigel Dupree continues to push those Southern roots and relax into a grittier, honest sound, headline attention is only an album or so away. What might be working here is the discovery that the influences of the 80s, not being influenced by the 80s, is where some of the best music started.

Up To No Good by Nigel Dupree is available on iTunes. You can find Up To No Good on Amazon or order the CD from Barnes & Noble. For tour information, visit the band on Facebook.
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