Doug Powell

The Lost Chord

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Doug Powell is a protégé of Todd Rundgren, and his fourth solo album, 2002's The Lost Chord, sounds like his version of over-the-top '70s epics like A Wizard, a True Star. Much more ornate than his earlier records, The Lost Chord is so top-heavy with tape effects, excessive instrumentation, and overdubbed vocals that the whole thing threatens to topple at any second. That it doesn't is testament to Powell's gift for meaty melodies and quirky lyrics; only a chorus as memorable as that of the pounding "Queen of Hurts" could withstand the onslaught of over-driven guitar amps, Gary Glitter drums, and extraneous noises Powell throws at it. Then there's the title track, a sensitive piano ballad with noise-guitar backing that sounds like Eric Carmen dueting with Sonic Youth's Lee Ranaldo. The whole thing is more than a little odd -- especially on the two-part "Nietzsche Is Dead," a play on the old philosophy school joke that sounds like one of Ian Whitcomb's music hall ditties -- but The Lost Chord has considerably more charm and personality than any of Powell's more pedestrian earlier efforts. Four albums in, Doug Powell has finally found his niche.

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