William Hart Strecker – Smoke and Clouds

William Hart Strecker – Smoke and Clouds / 2008 WHS / 13 Tracks / http://www.williamhartstrecker.com /

Strecker’s “Smoke and Clouds” is the third foray into Americana music by this individual, who was previously known for touring with individuals as diverse as Dizzy Gillespie, George Duke, and Mariah Carey. If eir contributions to the works and live shows of those individuals has not rang a bell, Strecker is also well known for running Fluid, a jingle firm that crafts a number of distinct sounds for advertisers throughout the world. “Round and Round” is the first track on “Smoke and Clouds”, and it showcases the maturity of Strecker’s overall sound.

This track holds ground that is in the midst of country, nineties alternative, and even classic pop (in the vein of individuals like Billy Joel and Elton John). The diversity of sounds broached by Strecker during this introductory track shows that there are few limits to Strecker’s sound; individuals do not know where Strecker will go in the tracks to come. Finally, the hints of greats like Neil Young and Warren Zevon in Strecker’s vocal output really establish Strecker as a modern day virtuoso; where the tracks on “Smoke and Clouds” all have a familiar sound to them, Strecker succeeds in crafting an unique sound throughout the disc’s 13 tracks. “Dreaming California” is the second track on the disc, blending together Stevie Ray Vaughan with the aforementioned Neil Young, but adding a little bit of a Lenny Kravitz sound to the mix. The first real “hit” for Strecker is “Anna Belle”, a sultry track that wins individuals over through very catchy melodies and memorable arrangements.

I understand that three discs does not establish individuals as a master in their craft, but I feel as if Strecker is one of the best at what ey does. It is not only the compelling nature of the tracks on “Smoke and Clouds”, nor the smoothed-out and friendly vocals of Strecker, but the way in which the album engages the listener. The diverse, dense arrangements present during tracks such as “Slow Down Darlin” will ensure that individuals will keep “Smoke and Clouds” in their players for months to come, lest they miss something important. Strecker could be right up there with Santana and other masters of the rock craft, it is just a matter of getting enough in the way of individuals to listen in. Hopefully the dizzying heights of “Smoke and Clouds” will allow fans to start streaming in. Pick it up.

Top Tracks: Waking Dream, Take Me Back

Rating: 7.4/10

Author: James McQuiston

Ph.D. in Political Science, Kent State University.

I have been the editor at NeuFutur / neufutur.com since I was 15. Looking for new staff members all the time; email me if you are interested. Thanks!

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