DurenDuren Music – 2015
Rating – 5/5
Reviewed by Kendall Bell
Hidden away at the back end of 2015, “Gem”, the follow up to 2011’s “Sparks” is as far removed from that EP as you could imagine. Breanne Düren has become a pro at re-imagining her sound. Her full length, self titled debut album was largely piano based and, while pop friendly, relied more on a driving piano sound with jazz elements and smoky, sultry vocals. “Sparks” was something of a let down: not a terrible EP, but didn’t really build on the promise of her debut. Her affecting vocals are what saved it from its generic, pop counterparts. “Gem” is a game changer, and Düren has clearly upped said game with a flawless collection of 70’s and 80’s inspired indie pop that sounds entirely relevant in 2016. The EP starts with “Dizzy”, a synth driven track that builds to a pulsing, thumping conclusion, carried by Düren’s subtle phrasing, singing of an echo, crescendo, so electrifying. The chirpy “Dear Adelaide” bounces along with 80’s-esque keyboard riffs, but tells of a girl that wears loss around her neck: This gem with a burden bears, that he was careless and he went too far. “Starstruck Fiction” wouldn’t sound out of place on the radio in the 70’s, blaring from a transistor radio. The hooks are irresistible, and Düren’s phrasing is dead on and both sexy and sweet, which is a tough trick for any vocalist. Each of the six songs on “Gem” hold little surprises, and the EP’s closing track, “If You Ever Fall” harkens back to her self-titled debut, with a simple piano melody and her lovely vocals at the forefront. Düren may be mostly recognized as the touring keyboardist for Adam Young’s Owl City project, but Düren deserves to be acknowledged as a talented and worthy singer/songwriter in her own right. Surely, nothing Young has produced comes close to the expert song craft on “Gem”. Then again, maybe we all want to keep Düren quietly to ourselves to adore, before some major label tries to make her something she isn’t.
Kendall A. Bell’s poetry has been most recently published in Thick With Conviction and Hobo Camp Review. He was nominated for Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net collection in 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2015. He is the author of seventeen chapbooks. His current chapbook is “How To Disappear”. He is the founder and co-editor of the online journal Chantarelle’s Notebook and publisher/editor of Maverick Duck Press. His chapbooks are available through Maverick Duck Press. He lives in Southern New Jersey