Reviews: Diggs Duke: Black Gold
Musician-singer-songwriter Diggs Duke is a one man band. He plays bass, sax, guitar, keys, drums, trumpet and sings lead and background on all of his tracks! Maestro Duke’s music is original, refined and radio-ready. Abandoning the 3 minute industry standard, each of Diggs’ tracks “do what it do” in its own style and time frame. His lyrics are smart, poetic and concise. He dovetails melodies and vocals to corner a mood, capture a familiar feeling and express his experience and opinions. His newly released EP, Black Gold is aptly named because each song is solid gold and like the colors black and gold, the mix of songs is striking and complementary.
Diggs’ beats and vocals leap from sensual and contemplative to funky, frothy and frenzied-often times within one song. His voice is smooth, dusky and has a commercial pop appeal. Nowhere is “Diggs Duke- Pop star of the future” more visible than on “Holding On.” Duke exploits the dichotomy between serious lyrics and a bubblegum beat by layering hot horns into the mix, thus expanding the catchy tune’s appeal to include the geriatric tribe. Despite his gift, Indiana’s native son does occasionally wander into “off-key” land. There’s an instance on “The Cure” where the vocals swan dive and the sophomoric lyrics crash, but Diggs Duke gets back on course with vibrato flourishes that splash musical notes from his soul right into your headphones. Diggs’s vocals also strain a bit on the title cut “Black and Gold” but he recovers by mesmerizing the tympanic membrane with lush horns and bombastic high-hatting. “The Solo” opens with a short but intense glitzy jazz horn blast that challenges one’s musical equilibrium, and then steadies itself with a blast of wah-wah pedal guitar porn. All of Duke’s songs are well-balanced, complicated and interesting but way too short. He tickles and tantalizes, only to wrap long before you are ready to stop listening.
Unpredictable, exciting and featuring wandering sax and enthusiastic guitar, Black Gold is an adventure in music. It offers a full range of soulful-funky-jazzy-pop ballads and head bobbers. More songs and longer tracks—please! Give Black Gold some love and consideration and hollah back. I enjoyed it and I’d love to hear what you think. This dude is deep, courageous and fine. Diggs Duke is a talented, unique artist and worth a listen. You’ll “dig” him too.