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|Succeed Alone: Dick Prall, September 9 at the Redstone Room|
|Music - Feature Stories|
|Written by Jeff Ignatius|
|Tuesday, 07 September 2010 13:26|
It’s been more than two years since Dick Prall released his last studio album, Weightless, and while that’s a typical gap in the music business, the Iowa-raised, Chicago-based singer/songwriter doesn’t believe it works for independent artists generally, and him particularly.
“For me, it’s kind of daunting to say, ‘Okay, this is what I’ve done the last two years, here you go, and let’s see if that carries for the next two years,’” he said in a recent interview to promote his September 9 solo-acoustic show at the Redstone Room. (He’ll also be recording a Daytrotter.com session that day.)
The problem, he said, is that schedule forces a musician to re-build momentum with each album. So he’s determined to stop fizzling between releases. He’s prepping an EP for this fall, with another to follow in late winter.
In this new age of singles (and single-track purchasing), the EP looks to Prall like an ideal format.
“I think attention span is part of it, both for myself and for audiences ... ,” he said. “It’s been a little longer than I wanted to put out another record, and this is a way to kind of get it done quickly and give folks some time to digest it, and on the heels of that kind of bring out that second half of a full record.”
These days, Prall is fully independent, in the sense of doing everything himself. “To be a priority on anybody’s list is a lot to ask,” he said.
Of course, Prall is tops on his own list, and while it’s a lot of work, he said he likes the control and autonomy. “If something doesn’t get done, it’s my fault,” he said. “I succeed and I fail alone. That’s a good place to be right now.”
Although he’s not particularly well-known, Prall is an undeniable talent, and Weightless should make people eager for these new recordings. It’s more sedate than his power-pop bread and butter, but the album showcases Prall’s sharp songwriting and soulful singing while maintaining an impressive scope. Opener “Halfway to Hollywood” is mid-tempo but muscular, with an impeccable violin-accented chorus.
More typical of the record is “Boulevard,” which has a richness achieved with a minimum of visible effort. The drums and guitar provide an active but unhurried backdrop, while intertwining layers of violins and vocals cast a hypnotic spell, and the mix treats them all nearly equally, allowing one’s attention to wander and explore.
ConcertLiveWire.com compared Weightless to Ryan Adams and “The Beatles’ latter era,” summarizing: “Add in a few flourishes of Wilco, touches of his previous concert partners, plus Prall's own delightfully gruff vocals, and Weightless winds up floating on an inviting bed of organic invention.”
That last album was built around Prall’s guitar and singing instead of with a band. Prall promised that his five-song fall EP will find him back in rock-and-roll form compared to Weightless’ “mellower tones, and a much more relaxed vibe”: “I’d say they’re a lot more aggressive in the sense that they’re upbeat. I’m not putting together a Mastodon record or anything like that. ...
“It was a lot of fun to crank my amp and beat the shit out of my guitar for a few hours, and do it all again and over and over throughout the week. ... I just want to feel that again.”
But he also said that those enchanted by Weightless’ thoughtful arrangements won’t be disappointed: “I’m still a sucker for strings and pop arrangements and kind of melding those two thing together.”
Dick Prall will perform on Thursday, September 9, at the Redstone Room (129 Main Street in Davenport). The show starts at 8 p.m., and the bill also includes Alan Sweet. Tickets are $7 and available from RedstoneRoom.com.
For more information on Dick Prall, visit DickPrall.com.
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