Sunken Condos

Music Review

20 Nov 2014
Donald Fagen
Sunken Condos
Warmer Brothers
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Some of us have been listening to ‘the Dan's’ music for nearly four decades, yet the noise is as compelling as it was way back when. It’s safe to say that the sound for which Donald Fagen is so well known was established somewhere in the late 70s and, for better or worse, has been used in all the various albums that were produced by both Fagen and his musical partner Walter Becker since that time.
This album, Fagen's fourth solo effort, features nine of his trademark slightly self obsessive songs about relations with (much too) young women and other middle class tales of angst and disillusion. The sound is the same yet different, gone is the very exact and artificial feel of the his 1980s recordings, in its place comes a looser, funkier, bluesier and yes jazzier feel. The keyboards and synthesized sounds are there but in addition there is meaty bass, the intimate effect of room echo and a different combination of leading instruments, even a trumpet solo!

Danophiles and Fagenites may be surprised by the lack of big name musicians who used to be associated with this artist, but don't be frightened, the very high standards we have come to expect are maintained. The quality of the recording is somewhere between OK and average. All is well and clearly presented but a little bit thick and slightly shut in. I can't quite recommend a best track, with the exception of I'm Not The Same Without You and Out of the Ghetto, all the tracks are entertaining and they are compelling sonically, musically and dare one say, intellectually.
To this listener's ears its Fagen’s best effort to date. In the pantheon of Steely Dan’s work it one should find a place somewhere at the very top of the list (I beg to differ, Ed.), a must have for the fans and a good introduction for those who may be new to the Dan and the Don.

Reuben Klein