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Fargo – Strangers D’Amour Award winner

Strangers D’Amour
by kenn staub at 24 August 2021, 8:59 PM

FARGO know that experience is one of the most valuable resources an artist can have; bringing with it the ability to distinguish the significant from the insignificant, the ability to operate with perfect timing rather than being guided by nervous impatience. On “Stranger D’ Amour” (released June 25, 2021) the trio from Hanover (Germany) put their experience to excellent use; “reducing to the max” and eschewing unnecessary experimentation in favor of channeling the classic rock sound they’ve been know and loved for since 1973.

Peter Ladwig’s singing voice is unique, demonstrating, at times, almost a twang reminiscent of the American south more so than northwestern Germany. His vocal styling fits perfectly with the country shadings heard in songs such as “Rain Of Champagne” (which, in my opinion, comes close to being a southern rock number), “Law Of The Jungle,” “Homesick,” “Dear Miss Donna Vetter,” and “No Reason To Cry.” Ladwig’s clarity allows the listener to enjoy the band’s first-rate lyrics and the sometimes frivolous, sometimes somber stories they tell (“Gimme That Bone,” “Time,” “Mary Says,” and “Dear Miss Donna Vetter” for example). Further, the turn of phrase and group harmonies give the choruses for tunes like “Rain Of Champagne,” “Gimme That Bone,” “Closer To The Sun,” “Law Of The Jungle,” and “Car Expert” an earwormish, singalong appeal.

Rain Of Champagne” is a big, driving song right from the start, Ladwig and Peter Knorn combining to lay down a catchy riff. The guitar solo is a rhythm-based complement to the melody, rather than a self-indulgent display of pyrotechnic virtuosity. This remains true throughout the album; solos fitting songs, rather than being “shoehorned in,” ignoring of context. “Gimme That Bone,” about a fight between two poodles over a bone, is played with attitude and an AC/DC-like heaviness.

Closer To The Sun” is more mid-tempo than the previous two rockers, the tonality having a more serious edge appropriate for a song about environmental breakdown. The tempo slows further on “Time,” a song of maturation with an almost epic feel. The guitar sound throughout the track is unique and the number goes out on a longer solo that stylistically shifts as it progresses.

The tempo picks back up on “Mary Says” (about illegal liquor distillers) before the album goes on a run of midtempo songs that channel classic country and roots rock, frequently evidencing a JOHN FOGERTY vibe. “Law Of The Jungle” is a bit more of a rocker than the three tracks that follow, intermittently coming at the listener in bursts. Anybody who has spent time apart from family and friends can emotionally relate to “Homesick.” The melody is pretty and the guitar solo traditional. “Dear Miss Donna Vetter” continues in the country-based rock theme, leading to the soulful ballad “No Reason To Cry.”

Things return to the harder side with the raunchy rocker “Car Expert,” with its ZZ TOP sensibility. “Why Don’t You” has a DIRE STRAITS feel, particularly the guitar line running beneath the melody and during the solo.

On “Stranger D’ AmourFARGO play straight ahead music that has an eclectic set of roots. The result is an interesting collection of songs that demonstrate a vibrant contemporariness. FARGO has most definitely learned less is more. Nothing on “Stanger D’ Amour” is unduly complicated; the songs catchy and never overstaying their welcome. I spent 43 memorable minutes with this album; time that went by way to quick, but which, nonetheless, left me a fan.

Musicianship: 10
Songwriting: 10
Memorability: 10
Production: 10

5 Star Rating

1. Rain Of Champagne
2. Gimme That Bone
3. Closer To The Sun
4. Time
5. Mary Says
6. Law Of The Jungle
7. Homesick
8. Dear Miss Donna Vetter
9. No Reason To Cry
10. Car Expert
11. Why Don’t You
Peter Ladwig – Vocal and Guitar
Peter Knorn – Bass
Nikolas Fritz – Drums
Record Label: Steamhammer


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