Pete Droge & the Sinners

Find a Door

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Part Mellencamp, part Tom Petty (with some old-school Neil Young angst thrown in for good measure), singer/songwriter Pete Droge is probably one of the most overlooked of the modern-day Americana/rock/folk music movement. Releasing a solid debut with 1994's Necktie Second, he would receive a boost from the album's first single, the infectious "If You Don't Love Me (I'll Kill Myself)." However, by the time Droge got around to releasing his excellent follow-up, Find a Door, many of the players who had championed his debut had left American Recordings. Consequently, the album had a tough time finding a niche for itself at both radio and retail. And what a shame that is. Teaming up once again with Brendan O'Brien, Find a Door is packed with worthy songs. Leading off with "Mr. Jade," replete with Motown-style subdued horn arrangements, one is immediately blown away by the record's incredible, live-in-the-pocket production. Always a big proponent of cutting records as quickly as possible, producer Brendan O'Brien perfectly captures the band's loose sound by putting the snare, cymbals, guitars, and Droge's voice way up at the forefront of the album's mix. Following the Steve Earle-ish "Wolfgang," the artist slows things down with the lovely "It Doesn't Have to Be That Way," giving way to one of the album's best moments, the amazing Neil Young-inspired "Dear Diane." Although Droge tends to write with sardonic overtones, it's difficult sometimes to tell if the guy's kidding or if he's dead serious. In the case of "Dear Diane," there's no doubt as to the singer's prerogative. Metaphorically speaking, the song alludes to death and desperation as the singer pleads, "Dear Diane/Today was even worse/I want you to call out a reverend and a hearse/And wrap that rope/Right around/My neck." Later in the song he confesses, "The man at the station said your ticket ain't good anymore." Heavy stuff. The somber mood immediately lifts with another straight-ahead rocker, "Breakman," and the Graham Parsons-meets-Jayhawks strains of "You Should Be Running." Sounding like an end of the night conversation with a stranger, the album's next track, "That Ain't Right," is a Byrds-by-the-numbers workout. The album's title track, which sounds like the sequel to "Dear Diane," features some wonderfully understated keyboard work courtesy of O'Brien. The album is rounded out with "Out with You," the simple "Sooner Than Later," and the reflective "The Lord Is Busy."

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