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ISSUE 116 VOL 6 PUBLISHED 10/18/2002

Sheik shines ‘Daylight’ on listeners

By Byron Vierk
Staff Writer

Friday, October 18, 2002

Singer-songwriters like Duncan Sheik used to be the soft-spoken minority among pop music. Now we live in a world populated by David Grays and John Mayers whose earnest and self-reflective music has catapulted singer-songwriters back to stardom that rivals the early 70s. Sheik is riding that wave, and his newest effort, Daylight, is a breezy pop record that never gets old but never really sinks in. Sheik had his breakthrough hit with the irresistible "Barely Breathing" nearly seven years ago. His newest single, "On a High," is every bit as pop savvy and catchy as "Barely Breathing," and is sure to be at least a minor hit. Unfortunately, the rest of the album lacks the energy of "On a High," which is more than ironic onsidering that Sheik has been quoted as saying that this is his “rock record.” While Daylight is much more rock-infused than 1998s Nick Drake-inspired Phantom Moon, it certainly lacks the energy of a pop rock album like Mayer's Room for Squares or Howie Day's Australia. The silver lining of the record is Sheik's personal and often intriguing writing. Touching on emotions from joy to guilt to apathy to self-loathing, the record is truly Sheik's most introspective. The only flaw is Daylight’s inability to pick up any kind of steam. The truly magnificent "On her Mind" is followed by the horrible and almost grating "Such Reveries." Where "On a High" lifts the album above its shortcomings, "For You" is right around the bend to bring the audience all back down to Earth and then some. While “On a High” is the albums obvious hit, there are plenty of very well-crafted pop songs on Daylight to make up for the album’s missteps. Memento is a Sting-style jazz send-up that slithers its way along powered by Sheik’s breathy and melodic voice. Half Life is as mournful a tune as Sheik has ever written, while the joy is almost palpable in the marvelous and uplifting album closer Shine Again. Sheik is capable of writing amazing songs, and it is a shame that he could not write more than he did for this album. On the albums worst moments, it sounds as though Sheik is trying too hard to be more than a soft-pop singer, and the extra effort hurts more than it helps. All things considered, Daylight is a very good record. It is not going to make Sheik a superstar, but Daylight does give promise to an artist that most of the world had written off as a one-hit wonder. There are more than enough radio-friendly tracks to make this album come together, but it is not the record that it seems Sheik was reaching for. Daylight is the perfect background album, great for those rainy nights of studying or a nice walk in the snow. Do not expect Daylight to blow you away. Sheik, it seems, would much rather sing lullabyes than rock hits.

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