Doug Seegers’ work mines traditional country templates — sonically, lyrically, and viscerally —and his voice reflects a life replete with suffering and redemption, an experiential arc resulting in hard-won wisdom.
His new album, A Story I Got to Tell, opens with the Willie Bennett-penned “White Lines,” featuring Seegers’ weathered voice and the tune’s lilting melody. “Cold and lonely on the road / Lord I wish I had a home,” Seegers sings, invoking a gut-wrenching but unsentimentalized melancholy. On “Give It Away,” Seegers espouses the well-known AA mantra: “If you really want to keep it, you got to give it away.” “Demon Seed” opens with a flamenco-style guitar, segueing into a rollicking and layered intro. “I’m going out tonight to find my baby,” he sings, depicting a woman who’s ensnared in addiction, and to whom he’s unfortunately and tragically drawn (the singer might benefit from attending a few Al-Anon meetings!).
“Angel from a Broken Home” addresses how humans are often so entrenched in their own distress that they remain blind to the damage they cause others; in this case, a father who neglects his daughter: “She’s 8 years old with a broken heart / how could a daddy be so hard?” “Out on the Streets” features lap-steel swells and staccato guitar fills. “My Little Falling Star” has a swing and/or shag feel and includes a distinct piano part by Tyler Chester.
On “Poor Side of Town,” written by Johnny Rivers and Lou Adler, Seegers moves fluidly from whispered intensity to vehement declaration. The waltz-y “Can’t Keep Running” features Seegers again exploring the misery that accompanies choosing a lover who is essentially unavailable. “Can’t keep running back to you,” he sings, Martin Bjorklund’s guitar part especially compelling. The album ends with “Life Is a Mystery,” Seegers’ unequivocal and emphatic manifesto re: heartbreak and longing.
Seegers is a talented songwriter, even if his melodies occasionally flag; and a gifted singer, even if his content and delivery at times fail to highlight his capacity for nuance. A Story I Got to Tell is an engaging statement from a contemporary troubadour who has endured hard times and, as the saying goes, lived to tell the tale.