Click to hear: “Atmosphere”
Adam Kurtz fooled me. At first glance, it looks like a full band made this album. Four other names are credited in the list of musicians in the liner notes, and the photo shows six people gathered on a porch. A closer look, however, reveals those six to be Kurtz himself in different hats and glasses. And I suppose I should have realized there’s no such person as The Colonel playing lead guitar, since Kurtz is a killer guitarist himself, known for the jaw-dropping solos he pulled off with the (only half-imaginary) Russian-rock tribute band Kino Proby. Lesson learned.
The Devil is Defeated is easy on the ears, a likeable mix of moderate rock with some Russian, folk and prog shadings. And it begins in promising fashion, with the extended intro of “Alchemist”: picked acoustic guitar pierced by an electric unfurling soaring notes.
I wish Kurtz had taken more compositional chances like this on the rest of the record. That is, more prog, less slog through wordy verses sung in Kurtz’s passable but unremarkable voice — the vocals of a lead guitarist, you could say. There are some hummable melodies — see “Atmosphere” [featured on thebollard.com] and “Oxidation” — but most aren’t strong enough to stick.
“Surrender” is an arena-rocker that also showcases Kurtz’s fine touch multi-tracking vocals, yet no guitar solo! In fact, Kurtz keeps The Colonel on a short leash throughout Devil.
Maybe it’s time The Colonel released a solo album.
— Chris Busby
Adam Kurtz is scheduled to play Munjfest, the annual festival on Congress Street atop Munjoy Hill, on Sun., Sept. 14, at 1 p.m. Free. adamkurtzmusic.com.