This is the official blog of Northern Arizona slam poet Christopher Fox Graham. Begun in 2002, and transferred to blogspot in 2006, FoxTheBlog has recorded more than 423,000 hits since 2009. This blog cover's Graham's poetry, the Arizona poetry slam community and offers tips for slam poets from sources around the Internet. Read CFG's full biography here. Looking for just that one poem? You know the one ... click here to find it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Review of Decker's album "Long Days"

My roommate, Brandon Decker will releases debut album "Long Days" on Friday, Oct. 2, at 9 p.m.

I have helped him with some of the logistical networking aspects of getting his album together and reviewing the work, so I'll be posting reviews of all 11 songs on the album leading up to the gig on Oct. 2.

Some of Sedona’s most popular performers are joining to celebrate one of their own. Brandon Cameron Parks-Decker will release his debut album "Long Days" with a concert at Ken's Creekside at 9 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 2.

The album will be available at the show for $10.

Jazz trio Busker Eaton, indie folk guitarist Jake Payne and the blues guitar duo Jay Fout and Keith Martini will open for Decker & the Doppelgangers.

Decker debuted at GumptionFest IV with performances during the main festival and the pre-party at Ken’s Creekside. His performance with the Doppelgangers showcased his wide-ranging talent for songwriting.

Decker’s backup band, the Doppelgangers include cellist Nanci McDonald, bassist Dylan Jung and Lou Moretti, both of Yin Yang & Zen Some and Busker Eaton, Jason Vargo, lead singer of Yin Yang & Zen Some, and trumpet player Sam Cavanaugh.

More than merely a debut album, Decker’s “Long Days” is a tale of redemption structured around a narrative framework rife with poignant lyrics.

After a rough-and-tumble life of drug abuse, colorful jaunts in rehab and halfway houses, relapse and recovery, Decker’s new album begins by confronting the lifestyle that could have ruined him. Through self-reflection in his music, Decker rose above his own darkness into a productive life of music and sobriety.

“My songs are my catharsis of everything I’ve been through, coupled with my empathy experienced from the different profound relationships I’ve had,” Decker said.

The 11 songs on “Long Days” were written over the last year-and-a-half and recorded during five months in Sedona, Ariz. The stories behind them have their history in the 10-year narrative of Decker’s tumultuous life in St. Louis, California and Arizona.

The songs delve into Decker’s life, his romantic and personal relationships and coming to terms with his sometimes checkered past.

“In every song, I’m taking a moment and trying to work through it honestly,” he said. “I think sincerity drives the lyrics. They’re kind of universal, somewhat, exploration of existential crisis and coping with the way things are and the way things could be.”

The tracks are mainly acoustic-driven, but there are synthesizers and plenty of layered harmonies to add richness to the tracks. Many of the songs have a gritty feel.

Born in Denver, Decker spent his childhood in Dallas and Louisville, Ky., before moving to St. Louis. It was there that Decker picked up the bass guitar at age 15, then moved onto the acoustic guitar at 18.

Decker attended college in St. Louis, but found himself on a darker, more self-destructive path. Although it still influences his music, he found a way out by moving to Southern California in 2002.

Growing as a musician, Decker moved to Flagstaff in 2004 and finished his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Northern Arizona University. Decker definitely put his old life behind him for good in 2005, marking a profound step forward. He began writing original songs shortly thereafter.

Decker moved to Phoenix in 2006, and became lead singer/guitarist of the band A Vacant Night Sky, which played all over the Phoenix valley. Shortly before Decker left Phoenix in late 2007, the band produced its first five-song EP. Decker wrote all of the band’s songs. Many of those songs are reworked into “Long Days” with deeper levels and more musical layers.

“It’s sincere,” Decker said. “There’s a different mood in every song.”

Decker moved to Sedona in 2007 to begin working on his solo performance. Since late 2008, Decker has been writing, recording and mixing his “Long Days.”

Decker is currently planning a West Coast tour for the spring of 2010 and a European tour in the summer accompanied by cello player Nanci McDonald.

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