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CD Review: William Hart Strecker's 'Smoke and Clouds' PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 28 May 2008 08:42
whstrecker3.jpgBy Stan Olshefski - GJD Contributor
William Hart Strecker (Bill to his fans and friends) has been in, out and around the music business since 1972. “Smoke and Clouds” is only his third record and it’s rich soulful atmosphere and detailed stories reflect Strecker’s decades of moody, bluesy living. It’s an old fashioned, true “album” in the sense that it’s a self contained world according to Bill - a group of 14 song linked together with a common world weary, bittersweet philosophy.

Bill Strecker is an “Auteur,” a singer songwriter with a rich smokey voice, but this is not a record of a guy strumming his guitar and singing folk songs. The music is BIG, rockin’ and jazzy, rooted in the ‘70s tradition of “Blue Eyed Soul.” His core band of eight players is joined by eight more resulting in very polished and textured sound, expertly produced by Ken Rich. Paragraphs could be written about the musicians and their resumes. Go to for lots of info about them and Strecker. It’s worth noting that they are led by the exceptional guitarist Drew Zingg who has recorded with Steely Dan, Boz Scaggs and Michael McDonald, to name a few. Those references give a precise idea of this record’s vibe. Drew’s guitar sounds are warm and tasteful and are a perfect fit
for this record.

But there’s no mistake that Strecker’s in charge and that this is his album. He’s unmistakably out in front with his vocals and minutely detailed stories of earthy nicotine stained, sharkskin booted blondes cleaning fish for a living “Round and Round”, thirty-three foot deep swamps, cans of weedwacker fuel “Things Don’t Always Turn Out Like You Plan” – you get the idea. There are a lot of words, maybe too many in the sense that Strecker is a little too enamored with his own lyrics – a forgivable offense for an old troubadour. If you’re used to abstract words that get lost in the mix, “Smoke and Clouds” will take you a few listens before you get it, but it’s worth it because few people are still putting out this kind of music in such an ambitious, talented way.

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