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CD REVIEW: Kreitzer takes on too many roles in 'Pages'

Like Eve, Mark Kreitzer has many faces -- musical, that is. He is the driving acoustic rhythm guitarist of The Clearwater Hot Club, pounding out changes for front man Sammo Miltich in that gypsy jazz ensemble, who play regularly in Duluth. For ye...

Mark Kreitzer

Like Eve, Mark Kreitzer has many faces -- musical, that is.

He is the driving acoustic rhythm guitarist of The Clearwater Hot Club, pounding out changes for front man Sammo Miltich in that gypsy jazz ensemble, who play regularly in Duluth.

For years he was an integral part of The Middle Spunk Creek Boys whose blend of old-timey and bluegrass was a favorite throughout the Upper Midwest.

He's a multi-instrumentalist, musicologist and linguist who can decipher a musical arrangement like the most studied composer. He teaches at the Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul and is an adjunct professor at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn.

He's also, as evidenced by the release of "Pages," a solo singer-songwriter and basically a one-man band who writes the songs, plays all the instruments and did the records engineering.

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Laurie Lewis wrote the liner notes on "Pages" saying: "I am listening to the Mark Kreitzer recording featuring Mark Kreitzer on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, bass, and vocals ... performing songs all written by -- guess who -- Mark Kreitzer! I advise you to listen to what he has to say. There's only one Mark, but the world could use a whole lot more."

"Tattoo On My Heart" opens the disc and tells the story of someone desperately trying to escape the memory of a past love. Acoustic guitar, mandolin and fiddle mesh to form a bluegrassy backdrop to a tune full of energy behind vocals that leave a bit to be desired in terms of range and pitch.

"Long Distance Runner" is the story of a man's search for himself. The sound of the recording is somewhat uneven, with a mix -- on this tune -- that accents rhythm guitar above all else, reducing the vocals to an almost backup role.

"Put The Baby Down" has an old western swing feel and sounds like something Bob Wills would have enjoyed singing with The Texas Playboys. "Yee haw." There is some fine mandolin work here that jumps out and grabs you.

"Dog Faced Boys" is a little instrumental that lets all the strings step out. The mix, or lack of attention to the mix, lets the solos get buried while the rhythm instruments continue to predominate. It's a shame, as there seems to be some great music that gets lost in the shuffle.

Kreitzer chunks out the changes on guitar on "All I Know," a love story about the uncertainty of relationships. There is a sincerity in

Kreitzer's voice that makes up for some of the limitations in his singing, but at times poor intonation and seeming poor key choices make for difficult listening.

"Pages" has some skillful instrumental moments, but is dragged down by the recording quality and Kreitzer's singing. There's something to be admired in the do-it-all-yourself process, but a singer and a recording engineer would have been welcome additions to this project.

Related Topics: MUSIC
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