Rich Krueger. Life Ain’t That Long. RockInk Music

richkrueger6We were introduced to Rich Krueger last year via his EP Overpass (reviewed here) which revealed him as a serious songwriter with razor sharp wit, a sometimes surreal way with words and an excellent ability to blend various musical styles ending up with his own idiosyncratic sound. The EP was a curtain raiser for two planned album releases with Life Ain’t That Long the first to be whelped into the world and a fine pup it turns out to be.

There’s no template for a Krueger song and the album weaves like a drunken sailor with bar room wisdom, tin pan alley pop, country and old fashioned R’n’B  all stumbling into view.  Sure enough there are shades of Springsteen, Newman, Bukowski and Van Morrison here and there but it’s all filtered through Krueger’s sardonic prism. The album opens with the country styled A Stoopid Broken Heart which sweeps along with pedal steel, fiddle and slide guitar in a glorious manner as Krueger sings as a barfly longing for the bar singer and telling everyone in the saloon about it. The Gospel According To Carl is more mannered, kicking off like a Randy Newman number with Krueger and his piano carrying the melody before the band weigh in and the song swells into a Gospel number. It’s a grand narrative, the protagonist a flashy used car dealer who can charm the pants off the customers having learned his craft as a pretend cripple at his dad’s tent shows. Of course dodgy brakes on a just sold car lead to calamity and his literal downfall as he sits atop a church, sozzled and ready to fly. Meanwhile the guy opportuned for casual sex in a bar in A Short One On Life grows to empathise with his paramour’s plight while Ain’t It So Nice Outside Today inhabits the souls of people who suffer- ill, old, maimed, feeling helpless, yet, despite this parade of horrors, there’s ultimately a sense of optimism by the end. The quest for happiness is investigated in the jazzy What Is It That You Want with Krueger recalling Ben Sidran back in the days.

Krueger seems to delve into his own past on a few songs. ’77/17 is a coming of age tale which recalls a first love and the ongoing flame it ignited, his own American Pie (in both the Don McLean and the movie series sense). Krueger’s teen sex life and the cultural highpoints of 1977 are conjoined in this winning slice of slightly stained urban R’nB grit. The Sex Pistols are one of the cultural touchstones in ’77/17 and Sid Vicious makes an appearance in the schlocky Springsteen like Then Jessica Smiled which is replete with farting sax solos and female harmonies straight from the Brill Building as Krueger looks back on his life, the lyricism here diametrically opposed to the wonderful pastiche that is the music with the song ending with a quote from Bonnie Tyler’s It’s A Heartache. Delicious.

Finally there is the crowning glory that is The Wednesday Boys, a song which truly inhabits the Celtic soul of Van Morrison with Krueger even approximating Morrison’s stream of consciousness delivery. It’s his Brooklyn version of Cypress Avenue and his band here support him with flying colours creating a wonderful neon lit night time ambience, Ed Hopper’s Nighthawks coming to life. We look forward to the promised second album.

Robert Christgau on Rich Krueger's Wince-Inducing Brilliance

The Dean of American Rock Critics reviews the Illinois singer-songwriter's 'Life Ain't That Long' and Modern Mal's 'The Misanthrope Family Album.'

Robert Christgau

The self-proclaimed "Dean of American Rock Critics," Robert Christgau was one of the pioneers of music criticism as we know it. He was the music editor at the Village Voice for almost four decades where he created the trusted annual Pazz & Jop Poll. He was one of the first mainstream critics to write about hip-hop and the only one to review Simon & Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water with one word: "Melodic." On top of his columns, he has published six books, including his 2015 autobiography, Going Into the City. He currently teaches at New York University. Every week, we publish Expert Witness, his long-running critical column. To find out more about his career, read his welcome post; for four decades of critical reviews, check out his regularly updated website.

Rich Krueger: Life Ain't That Long (Rockink) Born on a Wednesday full of woe, a 58-year-old Chicago neonatologist undertakes to show the world he's also a major songwriter, complete with wavery high baritone that hurts so much it'll make ordinary mortals wince. Although most of his evidence dates from the current century, only two selections are near new. The most recent goes on about Nero—“At night in his garden, Christian torches glow / He entertained the masses with fiddle and bow"—before observing that "a lie is a lie, and not 'fake news,'" and should you wonder what a Christian torch is, the CD comes with a useful booklet that will also make you wince. So will "The Gospel According to Carl," which re-enacts the pre-suicide ruminations of a car salesman who just discovered his conscience, and "Ain't It So Nice Outside Today?," which diagnoses suffering sinners who lust for life against all odds. Two songs praise Sid Vicious, a bunch indicate in agonizing yet generous detail why the guy's love life hasn't been everything it might, and the most memorable of all can't get over that girl he ditched so stupid when he was 17. Krueger's band accommodates horns, violin, accordion, and femme chorus. He borrows afterhooks from Bonnie Tyler and Jose Feliciano. And somehow I never mentioned that he can be pretty funny. Also nice. A

Rich Krueger--- Life Ain't That Long (and Ain't It the Truth?)

Rich Krueger - Life Ain't That Long

Sometimes you need only one song and sometimes it takes years but if an album is really good you will eventually know it. For Life Ain't That Long, it didn't even take a song. The first few measures of “A Stoopid Broken Heart”, I knew. By the end of the second song, I really knew and by the end of the third I was laughing, it was so damn good. Rich Krueger, where have you been hiding?

I am no real fan of Randy Newman but I love his play of words and infusion of comedic context. Krueger has it too, that seeming genius ability to tie words into knots and unravel them at the same time. Just about anyone else would make a mess of it all, stumbling over words piled one on the other like a wreck on a freeway during an icy winter morning at rush hour. Krueger, however, makes short work of it, telling us all about that which cannot be seen.

You are going to miss this if you're not careful, I want to say. Allow me to use the lyrics of “77/17” to prove my point, starting with a preface available only in the liner notes... “(You) really creep me out... it was thirty years ago... get over it,” (signed) Nancy H”. Which turned into, in the song, “A couple hundreds nights and, Christ, I really loved you Nancy”. I don't know Nancy but I want to meet any lady who captures a man's fancy for thirty years, even if only in a creepy way. That, Sports fans, is love.

And the album started so innocently too, a nice country-leaning tune (the aforementioned “A Stoopid Broken Heart”) opening the album, a song which could have been taken from Michael Dinner's excellent The Great Pretender album, minus Dinner's signature voice, of course (Krueger's is as good in its own way) but taking a whole 'nother direction with “The Gospel According to Carl”, the lyrics one long run-on sentence but so easy to follow because Carl has a lot to say and not much time to say it because, as the title of the album says, life ain't that long.

The title of the album is, in fact, a line from song number four, “A Short One on Life”. Funny but I always expect title tracks or songs with the best lyrics to supply the title, but ol' Carl, as good as his spiel is, takes home a red ribbon to this track. Which does not prevent me from marking “The Gospel According to Carl” a song of consequence. I have heard few like it and only at few of those as good.

Krueger draws from the wells of gospel here and there, as did Newman on occasion, the songs maybe only hinting of actual godliness but full of goodliness, nonetheless. I mean, if you like Newman, you will find a lot to love here but it is more than that. Krueger reaches way down and creates his own musical paths, song after song. Paths which suck you into an altered universe in which you get lost in other peoples problems and successes for a change.

It feels like daydreaming, does Life Ain't That Long. Like sitting in a favorite food court, creating fantasies around the people you see. Call it people-watching-put-to-music, and very very good music, at that. Now that I think about it, maybe perfect music for the moment.

Rich, ol' buddy, we don't know one another but I get it. I hear you have earlier albums available, too. I will get to them, I promise, but give me time. Because I get it. And I thank you. And, just so you know, you're right. Life ain't that long and, yes, there oughtta be a law against stoopid. Thanks for the reminder.

Google Translation of the Greek

RICH KRUEGER LIFE AINT THAT LONG Stories with acoustic based melodies.

Fast: New York's Chicago rocker's work on Rockink after last year's work, It's That Time Again. We heard her: With a crown on his head, the triumph of Neil Young-Van Morrison-Randy Newman, Rich Krueger tells stories with acoustic basically melodies. From Neil Young takes the spirit to the most stripped melodic moments. From Van Morrison borrows the most cocktail atmosphere, especially in the 7-minute "The Wednesday Boys". From Randy Newman he gets - what else? - the narrative skill in unleashing stories. For example, Robert Graves and Sid Vicious can be mentioned in the same song ("Then Jessica Smiled"). And it does not just make Jessica smile.

Run away: If you arrive from Newman to Paul.  

Did you tell her now? "He undertakes to show the world that he is a great songwriter, with a voice of high baritone that is running and hurting so much that it makes ordinary mortals cheer." -Noisey

Let me leave it? For foreign language delight.

Rich Krueger Life Aint That Long Album Review

In which a 58 year-old paediatrician from the US cobbles together his debut album (!) out of various folk-country-gospel-rock-R&B-jazz combinations. It works, partly because it’s so excellently produced and performed, but mostly because he writes his ass off and sings his vignettes in a style that evokes so many of the great singers from Van Morrison to Randy Newman.

Ironically, considering the album’s title, it can feel a little long (average track length is over 5 minutes), but Krueger uses the spaces in his songs to flesh out the many intriguing details. From past lovers to a car salesman to Sid Vicious and all the way back to Emperor Nero, his wit and perception can illuminate just about any character who wanders into the path of his keen writer’s gaze. Plus when he describes the year 1977 in “’77/17”, when he fucked it up with a perfect girl called Nancy, the setting feels as alive as any of his characters; everything he calls to our attention from the Bee Gees to “Susan Sarandon’s perfect tits” combine to paint a portrait of the past that reverberates with cynicism. And if you don’t get the decidedly bitter picture from the words then a rumbling, angry sax solo is there to help you understand.

Indeed, most of the musical touches manage to support the drama of the stories, and the overall ambition of the album is impressive. Girl group pop that’s been passed through the medium of Bruce Springsteen is evoked on “Then Jessica Smiled”; one of Van Morrison’s 70s live epics seems to ignite the spirit of the 7-minute “The Wednesday Boys”; some of The Band’s slower numbers (perhaps most of all “Unfaithful Servant”) bubble up to the surface of “What We Are”; Marvin Gaye and “Amazing Grace” are prominently quoted, both times for a good reason. With the exception of a female chorus that sentimentalises more than it energises, particularly on the icky (to my ears) “Can’t See Me in This Light”, all of Krueger’s choices sound magical. A violin that weaves its way in and out of many of the songs? Especially so.

I can only thank Robert Christgau for introducing me to yet another ace singer-songwriter, whose work I shall now follow for life. This is special, enlightening, and entertaining. I want more.

4 out of 5 stars

Rich Krueger at Armando’s Gallery House

Rich Krueger will perform December 20 at Armando’s Gallery House. Physician, sing thyself.


Rich Krueger, a performing songwriter, has a pretty good following in the Chicago area. He’s not a household name, but a fair number of folks around the country have been exposed to his art. He was recently a finalist in the “New Folk” category at the Kerrville Folk Festival, and has been written up in European publications focusing on American acoustic music. He was also a member of The Dysfunctionells, who described themselves as “THE butt-ugliest band in Chicago.”

I host open mics, and Rich came by one night at The Grape Escape. He shook my hand, we chatted a bit, and I got him on the list. He got up to perform, and halfway through his first song, some of the regulars and I looked at each other and mouthed the same word: “damn.”

The guy got chops.

Afterward, Rich mentioned that his job would be bringing him to Redding for a week out of each month, and he would see us again. Oh yeah, his job: I talked to Rich three times at three open mics before he bothered to mention that he was a doctor. A neonatologist, to be specific. While it was obvious from the git-go that Rich is a bright guy, I was a little surprised, because Rich’s demeanor stuck me more as from a person who might be a world-weary downtown Chicago bartender–with a large streak of kindness–than a by-gawd doctor of medicine. I think Rich would be pleased with that characterization.

Rich will be performing at Armando’s Gallery House this Wednesday, December 20. Things kick off at 6 p.m. Some guy named Hal Johnson will open for him (ulterior motive alert). C’mon out. In the meantime, check out his EP “Overpass,” which is a sampling of his two full-length albums coming out next year.

Hal Johnson
Born and raised in Ventura County, Hal Johnson moved to Shasta County in 1994. After a 38 year career flying helicopters, he can now sometimes be spotted around the North State singing and wrestling his guitar into submission. He always feels funny writing about himself in the third person. Contact him at

Part of  a much longer blog post

"Speaking of Christmas songs, Rich Krueger just released one that is so folk it is freaky.  Usually, when musicians compose anything about Christmas, they lose the feel.  Not so with Krueger.  He not only captures the feel, he tells the story.  The more I hear this guy (he has a new album titled Life Ain’t That Long, which it ain’t), the more I like him.  Very Harry Chapin/James Taylor/Harry Nilsson."

Rich Krueger – IT’S THAT TIME AGAIN.

rich krueger xmas x

Rich Krueger

We love left of centre music here at RMHQ and just fell in love with this Christmas song by New Yorker Rich Krueger, who is releasing a fabulous new album on January 26th (watch this space!)

Rich Krueger, who is now based in Chicago, IL, was born in Bedford-Stuyvesant, NYC. He has been writing and performing with his band The Dysfunctionells since 1985. The Dysfunctionells, (who describe themselves as “THE Butt-Ugliest Band in Chicago”) have backed up the Holy Modal Rounders at their reunion at The Bottom Line in NYC, and Krueger has recorded with Peter Stampfel on his own and with the band.

“One of the earliest songs I wrote. It was inspired by a recollection of a memory of going to church for the midnight Christmas Eve service at our families church, and the snow coming down burying the parked cars. I have no idea why a seven year old would left outside on his own in a snow storm at 11 pm on Christmas, but hey it was simpler times.

First track into Rich Krueger‘s Life Ain’t That Long and I’m saying, sonofoabitch, that’s practically Michael Dinner without Michael Dinner’s voice.  And that ain’t a bad thing.  Dinner’s voice is definitely one of the more unique voices I have heard over the years, but Krueger has a voice of quality, too— a little higher in scale and maybe without the deep texture of Dinner’s— but plenty good enough and, in fact, plenty good.  Next track, The Gospel According to Carl, Randy Newman, swear to God.  Third track— I don’t care anymore.  This Krueger dude has some talent!  Each song seems to stretch into different territory.  I mean, I am two thirds of the way through this album and I’ve had a variety of styles thrown at me and I like them all.  Someone told me this was going to be good.  I should have known.  This guy’s been around awhile.  He knows his stuff.  Peter Stampfel of The Holy Modal Rounders, had this to say:  As a lifelong fan of True Deep American Strangeness, I came to a realization after leaving Milwaukee for the last time in 1959: The truest, deepest American strangeness is to be found in the heartland, the great Midwest.  As a perfect example, take a song— any song— of Rich Krueger and you will see exactly what I mean.  Rich is an American Stranger if ever I did see one.    Here’s the one which hints of Dinner.  BTW, the title of the album is Life Ain’t That Long.  Because, as Rich says, it ain’t.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

New Music From Singer/Songwriter Rich Krueger

From Chicago comes the latest release titled "Life Ain't That Long" from singer/songwriter Rich Krueger. Krueger has been performing with his band, The Dysfunctionells for the better part of three decades and is ready to breakout on his own with two new solo albums. This release, being the first of the two new albums contains 10 solid songs of well-structured songwriting, beginning with the upbeat, Americana vibe of "A Stoopid Broken Heart." The album continues with "The Gospel According To Carl," which sounds like it came straight from the seventies folk/rock movement and should turn you into an instant fan of Rich's songwriting. His music takes on an edgier sound with his tribute to 1977 when Krueger was only 17 years old and all the highlights he experienced that year in "77/17." When he slows down for the ballad "Can't See Me In This Light," you can appreciate the honest delivery of his words and the emotions he pours into his performances. He wraps up his new release with the seven-minute, soul grooved plea of "The Wednesday Boys" and the inspired, gospel sway of "What We Are." There are also two bonus songs added to this album, including his Christmas-themed "And It's That Time Again," which Rich wrote back in 1985. To find out more about Rich Krueger and his latest release "Life Ain't That Long," please visit

RICH KRUEGER, Life Ain’t That Long  (RockInk): 3½ STARS

Veteran Chicago guitarist/pianist Krueger delivers a winningly unpretentious, lyric-focused set that plugs in at the intersection where folk, rock and melodic pop jawbone and flip off genre distinctions. Country fiddle, R&B sax, gospel piano and harmonies make satisfying musical sense backdropping Krueger’s free-ranging perspectives. Highlights: “Stoopid Broken Heart” (“No one wants to break down with a stranger/ So that’s why God made bars and girl bar singers and one-night cheap motels”), “Can’t See Me in This Light,” bonus Christmas track “It’s That Time Again.” RIYL Robbie Fulks and Randy Newman.,

INTERVIEW: Singer-songwriter Rich Krueger is ready for busy 2018

In 2018, Rich Krueger plans to release two albums, including January’s Life Ain’t That Long. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Next year will bring not only a new album from Chicago-based musician Rich Krueger, but two new albums. That means 2018 will be a busy one for the singer-songwriter, who was born in Brooklyn, New York, and now calls the Windy City home.

Krueger performs as a solo act and also leads The Dysfunctionells, who have played with Peter Stampfel and The Holy Modal Rounders. He has a folksy sound that’s harder around the edges than most acts, combining real-world lyrics with catchy guitar riffs. There’s an countrified ebullience in “A Short One on Life” and a contemplative musicality on “Yesterday’s Wrong…”

Recently, Hollywood Soapbox exchanged emails with Krueger about his recording efforts. Questions and answers have been slightly edited for style.

What can fans expect from your upcoming recording efforts?

I am currently recording two albums. The first is virtually completed and is called Life Ain’t That Long. So far preliminary responses have been fantastic. Check out the reviews of the record preview release and EP called Overpass, which features alternate mixes of two tracks on Life Ain’t That Long.

[Here’s] a great U.K. review on the Antifolk blog. Also check out this amazing — and I mean amazing — glowing review of my EP “Overpass” from Glasgow music critic Paul Kerr!

LATL is my first attempt at making a ‘real’ album, rather than just recording demos, featuring lots of great musician friends who have played and recorded with some of the greats. … The feel [of] the album moves from Americana sounds, through rock ‘n’ roll and singer-songwriter sounds, all the way to R&B-tinged blue eyed soul.

Life Ain’t That Long has 10 tracks plus a bonus track. It will be released on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018. It will be sent out for radio and publicity on Nov. 1, 2017.

Recording has already begun on the so far untitled second record, which I hope to release at the end of next summer.

What inspired you to make these albums?

I had been wanting to make a record like these for years, but available time, money and opportunity never all arose at the same time. What got the ball rolling is that a friend needed a good recording of a song of mine, ‘The Gospel According To Carl’ for a play he was involved in. We began the project in 2016, and it just kept on going.

When did you realize that you loved music and wanted to be in a band? Does it go back to when you were a child?

I used to sing in choir when I was very young, just 6 or 7, and was encouraged to do this by my mother. …

Who are some of your musical influences?

What made me want to be a songwriter was growing up listening to the original cast recording of Jacques Brel Is Alive And Well And Living In Paris. I wanted to write and sing songs like Brel. Songs that were fierce, honest, unflinching and unnerving. But I have many, many other influences from Tom Leherer to Paul Simon to Elvis Costello to Graham Parker to Van Morrison to Billy Bragg to Peter Stampfel and The Holy Modal Rounders to Captain Beefheart to Lou Reed to Tom Waits to Loudon Wainwright III to Richard Thompson. To name just a few.

What’s the difference in the music scenes between Chicago and New York City?

I am way more familiar with Chicago scene obviously than New York, but I love playing New York. In the past, I’ve played the now-defunct Bottom Line, The Mercury Lounge, and even Town Hall once! And we just did a really successful show last month at The Sidewalk Café (home of anti-folkers such as Jeffery Lewis and Kimya Dawson). … We’ll be back in the spring if the fates allow, and I hope to be doing a couple of shows in and around Los Angeles. There [is] a great critical mass of musicians, writer[s] and artists in both cities. It may be easier to play in clubs in Chicago. It is certainly easier to park the band’s van in Chicago, or nearly anywhere, compared to NYC.

By John Soltes / Publisher /

RICH KRUEGER/Life Ain't That Long: Hits are easy. Being admired by Holy Modal Rounders is another story. Chicago secret weapon Krueger loves life in the left field of back porch music and delivers a set that does make the Rounders proud. While his musicianship is polished and his lyrics make you go ‘huh?', this cat is a strange folkie for today's strange times and drugs. The perfect antidote to anything that sucks (as long as you aren't happy to be sucking it), this is a wonderful clarion call to the real disaffected that want to know there's someone else out there that sees things the same way. Where's the Earl of Old Town when you need it? Smoking.

Rich Krueger. Overpass

Krueger coverWe do love our mavericks here at Blabber’n’Smoke, folk who approach music from a slightly different angle and Rich Krueger seems to fit that bill. He was a member of The Dysfunctionells (who described themselves as “THE Butt-Ugliest Band in Chicago”) and who recorded at various times with Peter Stampfel and Michael Hurley, so, a good maverick pedigree there.

Krueger, who works as a neo natal doctor in Chicago, is readying two solo albums for release and this EP is a foretaste of what’s to come. Recently he was a finalist in the New Folk category at The Kerrville Folk Festival and Overpass opens with the fine fiddle fuelled A Short One On Life, a song about a female barfly who picks up strangers in bars. With gritty lyrics, Krueger describes her hard life, nights spent with, “one night wonder(s) with a heart of gold and a name for his cock that no thinking person would ever even name a dog” before some slide guitar from Seth Lee Jones adds some muscle to the song. In Between, Kingfish is a powerful song about homelessness with Krueger weaving Huey P. Long (AKA The Kingfish) and Sam Walton (founder of Walmart and born in Kingfisher, Oklahoma) into the tale, contrasting their respective philosophies. Over a lachrymose fiddle and weeping accordion (played by John Fullbright) Krueger achingly highlights the plight of the underprivileged and ends the song with a surreal vision of Long and Walton sitting in an abandoned car beside a derelict Walmart with Woody Guthrie and Franklin Roosevelt for company. A potent symbol for the death of the New Deal.

Next up Krueger takes a sharp turn on Yesterday’s Wrong (Green) which is coloured by tablas, sarangi, tanpura and kanjira giving it an undeniable Indian sound. It rambles for over six minutes in exotic fashion as Krueger seems to lament the loss of innocence that permeated the sixties and the ecological nightmare we all face. Recalling Donovan or The Incredible String Band it’s hypnotic. What Are We is perhaps the most straightforward song here in terms of its delivery as Krueger offers up a Randy Newman like piano song with soulful vocal backing. Here he sings of Nero setting Rome alight and suggests similarities with his present day President. A hidden song at the end, Kerrville, Oh My Kerrville, written back in 1991, finds Krueger with acoustic guitar identifying with his idols, musical and otherwise, on a humorous take on the festival which is somewhat tongue in cheek but stuffed full of arresting images.

It’s a tremendous listen and it bodes well for the forthcoming albums. You can buy the EP here


EP Cover 

Richard Krueger’s Overpass EP review

For an intemperate hoarder of gaudy artifacts of 20th Century pop culture, Dr. Krueger steadfastly avoids the pop tropes of the contemporary world.

Here you’ll find no slushy lo-fi three-chord rave-ups, nor computer-bred beats, nor gratuitous hip-hop urban sprechgesang, nor autotune, nor chilly subsonics, nor dance floor breaks, nor whispery girl vocals, nor webs of delay loops. In fact, you may find no hint of the 21st Century at all.  But for all that, this is a surprisingly eclectic collection: each of the four songs (putting aside the hidden track) is provided a unique setting with an appropriate cast of guest musicians.

At his core, Krueger is an old folkie at heart (although an esotericist in practice), with a folkie’s love of text above all.

You may lose count of the times he sings past the bar haphazardly into the next line.

None can dissuade him in this.  An anglophile par excellence, dare I say a not-so-young English romantic in the manner of Graves or Housman or D. Thomas, tuning their inner radio to such exquisitely refined sensitivity so as to receive the etheric broadcasts of some idyllically throbbing world soul from two or more universes away.

Typically, Krueger’s modus operandi involves digging out a small shard of memory or impression, not enough to even call a story, and spin a phantasmagoric avalanche of imagery around it.  This may prove antithetical to the contemporary audience, who may grow restless with his protracted enthusiasms; nonetheless, his is a precious contribution.  Krueger’s loquacity is a singularity.

No one ever asked me to write liner notes, and I would never usually volunteer such a thing, involving as it does some physical effort.  But heck, since there are only four songs (plus one – SECRET!), here’s the quick rundown for the attention impaired:

Track One: A Short One on Life.  Of course, the “short one” runs well past the four minute mark.  As always once Krueger starts to unload he can’t stop himself.  Sonically, he seems to be making a bid for the Nashville radio mass audience, but he almost immediately self-sabotages with, well, length, vulgarity, embittered politics and unguarded anatomic observations.

Track Two: In Between Kingfish.  Probably the heart of this collection, yet the hardest to parse.  If I understand this correctly (probably not), it takes place in a semi-nomadic Hooverville cum refugee camp of destitute working and middle class cast-offs in California’s Central Valley.  (The ghosts of ?) Huey Long and Sam Walton have established their haunt here and reminisce freely.  Franklin Roosevelt and Woody Guthrie also show up, sleeping in an abandoned car.  So m takeaway is: in the next life no one has any say in where they go or who they hang out with.

Track Three:  Yesterday’s Wrong (Green).  Each successive song seems to grow less structured and more discursive.  This one takes a turn toward South Asia with tasty tabla and sarangi (a kind of vertical viola/hurdy gurdy honeycombed with resonating strings).  There seemed to be no discernible narrative and also:  Why Green?

Track Four: What We Are.  This brings this collection to a satisfying conclusion, with its gospel overtones and wooden hearts and name-checks history’s most evil fiddlers, Emperor Nero and Spade Cooley.  My fave.

Overpass is a preview of his current project, a half-finished two-disc collection gradually assembled from songs old and new.  If this handful of songs is in any way representative of the whole, followers would be well advised to reserve room for three spots on their CD racks for the follow-up.


In "A Short One on Life," the opening track of Chicago singer-songwriter Rich Krueger's as-yet-unreleased new CD, he tells us that one thing he's learned is that "life ain't that long."  And maybe it isn't, but his songs sure as hell are - there's hardly a one under 4 minutes in length and several venture into the 6 or 7 minute range - but Krueger's got stories to tell, moods to paint, and sometimes his brilliant, exuberant  bursts require longer than the standard radio airplay time length.  His unbridled wordiness, passion and irreverence invite comparisons to Loudon Wainwright III, Randy Newman, and the Sex Pistols.


Krueger is no musical neophyte, having weathered Chicago's music scene for years with his madcap band The Dysfunctionells, now scattered to the winds.  For this new project he gathers stellar players from Chicago, Tulsa, and other locales including Scott Daniel on fiddle, Seth Lee Jones on guitar, Brian Wilke on pedal steel, a pounding rhythm section and an unearthly gospel diva emitting celestial warbles and shrieks.  In "The Gospel According to Carl," Krueger presents us with an over-the-hill used car salesman's philosophic musings on life and religion which carry the listener to heights of transcendent joy.


"77 and 17" is a hard-rocking autobiographical retrospective which among other things reveals Krueger's surprisingly mature actual age - 57 - and some of his early influences and losses.  "Can't See Me In This Light," a beautiful mournful tune powered by accordion and electric guitar, asks for love, forgiveness and redemption, while "What Is It That You Want" is an angry wake-up call to the complacent non-participants of our society.


Throughout this lyrically artful and musically diverse collection, Krueger's soulful voice carries us over his debris-strewn chaotic emotional landscape to a place of catharsis and - dare we say it - peace.

Rich on iTunes!

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Rich on Spotify

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