Music and songwriting influenced by the Beatles, Dylan, Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, Tom Petty, Kinks, Jayhawks and Paul Westerberg. CHARLEY DUSH- BREAKDOWN UNION- CFD- Twin Cities guy Dush has been around for a few years now and his debut from 2002 handed the listeners some nice slices of Beatle-esque pop while last year's HIGHWOOD HILLS was even stronger. On his new record, BREAKDOWN UNION, Dush brings on board some folks from some of Mpls. Most beloved bands, The Honeydogs and Golden Smog, and has easily made his strongest record yet. On the opening "Two Lonely Travelers" Peter Sands barroom piano adds a beautiful touch but it's Dush's vocals and acoustic guitar that drive the tune while on cuts like "Ready to Leave" and "One More Day of Happiness" a cry-in-your-beer pedal steel adds some flavor to the proceedings. Also, judging by the lyrics (especially "Ready to Leave" ) it sounds as if Dush has not had the easiest couple of years and it sounds as if BREAKDOWN UNION was almost a cathartic experience . I have said in the past that some musician's pain is our gain and that is certainly true of these 10 songs. Another strength of Dush's is that the songs are no longer than they need to be as the whole shebang is over in less than 28 minutes. Give this guy a listen. DAGGER Local singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Charley Dush has been steadily growing as a lyricist and a musician over the past few years--his self-titled debut hinted at an axe-slinger with a sensitive side who was absolutely gaga over The Beach Boys, Beatles and The Byrds. 2005's Highwood Hills found him waxing nostalgic about his youth, breaking down new musical barriers, and working with several lauded area rockers (Honeydogs drummer/co-founder Noah Levy and guitar guru Danny Vorderbruggen) to create a solid, self-styled genre all his own. This year's Breakdown Union finds the man veering a bit off the pavement and onto some comfortable, winding country roads with the occasional detour into pop experimentation. Much of the sound differences in Charley's latest are the direct result of the addition of pedal steel/keyboard player Joe Savage, who contributes to the bulk of this record and whose timely, weeping swipes at both instruments add a fresh, heretofore unmined vein of Dush's musical canon. Album opener 'Two Lonely Travelers' rings out proud and jangly--like a Traveling Wilburys out-take--Dush providing both bass and guitar, Levy returning to provide a romping, toe-tapping rhythm and Pete Sands plunking away at an old-timey piano that recalls the tasty licks running through the best of Marshall Tucker or late-period Byrds. Danny V., Dush's musical soulmate in more ways than one, shares backing vocal duties (and supplements several cuts with righteously vicious guitar attacks) with old cohort Brian McGuire, making the overall vibe of the album one of wistful self-reflection. 'Ready to Leave' follows in the footsteps of it's predecessor, Dush delightfully twisting turns of phrase, Sands providing ghostly keyboard assistance and Savage lovingly fingering his pedal steel. 'Always Wanted Too' is decidedly more pop-inflected, Dush pulling out his infamous 12-string and the tune itself steered by the band's obvious studio camaraderie. 'Wits End' is a jumpy, thumping ode to the death of a relationship; 'One More Day of Happiness' a Gram Parsons-inspired rural stomper wherein Charley lyrically longs for closure and a mutual settlement of the turbulent emotions inherent in a break-up: 'Maybe tonight will feel like our first real good night,' he urges, as the band romps along merrily behind him. 'Somebody Tell Me' is a thought-provoking, catchy slice of heartache that's pushed and pulled along by Danny V's snarling axe-work and the Sands/Savage keyboard/pedal steel meltdown. The album comes to a peak with the genuinely bittersweet ballad 'Where Have You Gone Julie,' Dush tearing open his chest and proudly displaying his battered heart while retaining a grain of dark humor as he spins a jingle-tangled tale of lost love and that inevitable failure one finds when trying to recapture a long-dusted relationship: 'She wrote Brian Jones on her jeans / And for a kid of only fifteen / That's probably one of the coolest things that I'd ever seen.' All in all, a keen, life-affirming collection of stage-stompers, dreamy ballads and whipsmart lyrics--all backed by a band that clicks together perfectly for Charley's brand of pop/rock/countrified Twin Cities boogaloo. Great stuff, gang! Check Charley's latest out at charleydush.com or cruise to cdbaby.com to find his back catalog. PULSE of the TWIN CITIES/Tom Hallett.
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