Dennis Schütze - 2174
Straight outta Würzburg/Germany comes one of the more charming Americana records of the season. Dennis Schütze lends his wonderfully smooth vocals and sure-handed guitar picking to eleven self-penned songs on "2174". Even though this is his debut album as a solo artist, Schütze already boasts an impressive resume. As a member of various bands, he has released a total of seven CDs ranging from the folkblues of Schütze & Stückle to the rockabilly sound of Will Handsome and "Good Enough To Keep", an instrumental tribute to jazz guitarist Charlie Christian.
This time around, though, the focus is on Schütze's folk-rockin', country-rockin', pop-rockin' songwriting. "2174" is exceptionally strong on melody and musicianship and a little short on lyrical depth. Every single song on the album provides a tune as infectious as anything in Neal Casal's or Jim Croce's songbook - two of the artist's more obvious influences. While Schütze applies a seductive, effortless croon, the rhythm section of Paul Höchstädter and Christoph Reiss along with a host of first-rate guest musicians play the hell out of these songs. Thus, acoustic & electric guitars, organs, harmonicas, and gorgeous lead & background vocals all chime together over a watertight groove to create a beautiful sounding record.
Even if Schütze's lyrical musings on love lost and found remain light-weight and his efforts at outlaw-storytelling lack poignancy: When it comes to sheer listening pleasure, "2174" beats most competitors by a country mile.
by Markus Rill