Crossing Dragon Bridge

Steve Wynn

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Crossing Dragon Bridge Review

by Thom Jurek

According to his liner notes, when Steve Wynn went to Ljubljana, Slovenia to make a record with producer Chris Eckman (songwriter, guitarist, and founder of the Walkabouts who also does work for Slovenian television) at the latter's studio, he never expected to be told he had to do everything himself. Wynn had some songs for this collaboration, but others were written on the spot and he played virtually everything on the set, from guitar, bass, and keyboards to vocals and backing vocals. Apparently Eckman played a bit but was very hesitant to do so. In three weeks, after spending plenty of time observing life there in Ljubljana, forgetting his life in New York for a bit, and generally being a stranger in a strange land, he came up with a collection of 13 songs that talked about everything he felt there to be sure, but more than this, he'd come up with an astonishing collection of very diverse tunes that were different than anything he'd ever written or recorded before. After Wynn finished his sessions, Eckman added a local women's choir, a chamber orchestra from Prague. Later he added overdubbed sessions by Chris Cacavas, Linda Pitmon, Kirk Swan, and the Teenage Prayers' Tim Adams, in the United States and Germany. Tucker Martine mixed the entire album in Seattle. The end result is Crossing Dragon Bridge, an album that mixes lushly orchestrated outsider pop (the title track and the nearly Brechtian "Wait Until You Get to Know Me"); mutant Americana ("She Came," and "Annie and Me"); beautifully textured garagey psychedelia ("Love Me Anyway" and "God Doesn't Like It"); darkly colored Baroque rock ("Bring the Magic" and "I Don't Need This"), and hauntingly beautiful singer/songwriter fare ("Punching Holes in the Sky"). In other words, this is a dazzling array of material, but all of it is perfectly suited to Wynn as both a songwriter and as a singer. Lyrically it's the most sophisticated thing he's ever recorded, head and shoulders above the standard fare from his peers and by many new kids on the block as well (no pun intended). He's set himself a new high-water mark to be sure. Ultimately, it's a songwriter's album but one that is full of surprise, delight, and a sense of poetry that is wiry, tough, and tender. By turns epic and intimate, literate, witty and poetic, this is Wynn's masterpiece

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