Doug Hoekstra

Make Me Believe

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Doug Hoekstra is an intrepid journeyman and artist, clearly uninhibited about his own lurid, house-of-horrors imagination. His third album, Make Me Believe, is freckled with unlikely eerie production flourishes and rarely heard, back-home instruments (i.e., the melodica and e bow), frequently hand-crafted by acquaintances of Hoekstra's. But his songwriting, whether in swooping scary gestures or elusive acoustic symphonics, has a knack for being riveting, particularly if he delivers in his appealingly growly, often hushed and reverent register. Hoekstra starts out with an addictive, bluesy groove on "Sam Cooke Sang the Gospel," with cacophonous harp stylings and K.K. Falkner's daring, atmospheric background vocal and poignant spots of radio-preacher babble. Falkner's voice reverberates relentlessly: her hypnotic tones work in synch with Hoekstra on the mysterious, humming gait of "Choices" (enlivened by organ and melodica dollops). Later Falkner enjoins and echoes Hoekstra on the beefy, unkempt acoustic romp "Atticus." Hoekstra manufactures his vocals into a lilting, authoritative call of the wild on "Shiver, Bend & Break," a rudimentary Americana short set endowed with wailing e bow tones. He evokes a delirious, South American influence on "Celebrate the Trance," then nearly croak-whispers his way through the twilight melodies on "My Father's Town," "Elusive Dreams" and "Snowflakes." The idiosyncratic backwoods tune "Kirkwood Hotel" visits a dreary motel haunted by weirdly sampled B-movie vocals. The horrorshow motif Hoekstra embraces on this oddly conceived but remarkable record is a nontraditional accomplishment and essentially a fine, unforgettable listen.

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