Nicolai Dunger - Soul Rush

The other day as I was cooking breakfast I put on an album I hadn’t listened to in years. Swedish born songwriter Nicolai Dunger’s Soul Rush was one of those interesting discoveries I made through a music magazine’s CD sampler not long before the internet became my primary source for new music. You’re probably wondering what a music magazine is, right? Well, they were these things that were filled with pictures and words, they shared opinions, and basically told you what you should listen to and what to avoid. What a dumb idea. No wonder they’re dropping like flies in 2008. But this CD sampler had a song called “Dr. Zhivago’s Train” on it that blew my mind, and I ordered Soul Rush straightaway.
The first thing I noticed, as would any listener, is that Dunger is blessed/cursed by sharing a damn-near identical voice to Van Morrison. I guess if your voice is gonna be a dead ringer for another artist’s you could do much much worse than Van the Man. Geddy Lee…..Kip Winger…..the guy from Supertramp - those are just off the top of my head. It became clear very quickly though that Dunger was/is a uniquely talented singer and songwriter in his own right, and any vocal similarities he shares to the Irish bard is more a coincidence than a conscious effort on his part to emulate a legend.
Soul Rush came out to little fanfare here in the states back in 2001 and for a pretty long time after that I thought I had stumbled onto one of the great lost folk/soul albums I’d ever hear, and I might have. Its mix of strings and horns over Dunger’s impassioned vocals and the folk backdrops of the Esbjorn Svenssons Trio are often totally captivating. Dunger has gone on to release a few more solid albums in the years since, collaborating occasionally with Mercury Rev and Will Oldham, but nothing has come close to these earlier recordings in my opinion. With Bon Iver’s soulful indie-folk making me dizzy lately I thought I’d go back and explore other artists in the same musical ballpark, and these songs, both from Soul Rush, are superb.
MP3 :: Dr. Zhivago’s Train
MP3 :: Ballad Of A Relationship
(from Soul Rush. Info here)

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