Zeke Duhon’s self titled debut EP on Big Deal Records (My Morning Jacket, Ray Lamontagne) is a brief portrait of a young man working to figure out his own truths and, by proxy, illuminating artistic mile markers a large number of people in this town can relate to. The preface (his and possibly yours): a young Okie heads east to Music City seeking the larger stage that Tulsa couldn’t offer.
It’s a good time in music to be a singer-songwriter straddling the fence between indie and pop. The lines have blurred again between which is which, and the stalwarts of both are becoming cozy bed fellows (see Ryan Adams’ 1989). On this EP, Duhon is swinging for the fences. He is going for Vance Joy/Taylor Swift homerun hooks and choruses. And while he never quite gets there, you have to respect the effort of a 20-year-old swinging that size of a bat. What keeps the EP tethered to East Nashville and Duhon’s indie upbringing is the depth and closeness of his lyrics. He had some help from seasoned song crafting vets: Brett Dennen, Kevin Griffin and Matthew Perryman Jones all have writing credits on this EP.
The strongest track on the record is a song written solely by Duhon. “Faith and Hope” has the stomp/clap catchiness to draw you in and the lyrical content to keep you intrigued. The song is a metaphorical invitation to grab a gun and pick a side. It is an invigorating political call to arms, but is veiled enough to cover whether Duhon is leaning left or right.
Duhon is a singer-songwriter first. The acoustic guitar is not ever present, but is still the apparatus upon what each song is built. He is more David Gray then James Taylor, telling generational truths using modern tools. The EP has the Nashville polish on it, which might turn some indie purists away, those people might be read as bitter hipsters, but there are times during the album that you can’t but help catch yourself tapping along. The record works best when it is Duhon’s lone artist voice guiding the ship. Here’s to hoping he gets the chance to develop that voice even further. -Alex Vucelich