Critic’s Corner: Oak & Gorski – Love Destroyer

It’s been quite some time since our last Critic’s Corner album review, and quite frankly there are a number of reasons this is so but today marks the return of the feature. This is our 30th album review since a-Tunes started and we’ve decided to switch things up a little bit and change the format. We’ll dive more into this in our next post.

One of our first reviews was of Oak & Gorski’s debut album Good Advice, Bad Advice. Here we are two years later and they have a new EP that dropped at the end of 2010 called Love Destroyer. Being an EP, it clocks in at just under 20 minutes long, totaling 5 tracks. So how does it fair in comparison? Let’s find out.

For the uninitiated, Oak & Gorski is the re-minted title for what was formerly known as the Ken Oak Band. Fronted by Ken Oak, they’ve made a name for themselves with their unique self-proclaimed brand of “Cello Rock”. Oak is an accomplished cellist and has rarely performed without it since his previous days back in the early to mid 2000’s. In this current musical format, Oak and guitarist Ed Gorski share equal billing and continue to evolve and tweak their sound – as evidenced by their debut effort as O&G, Good Advice, Bad Advice.

We weren’t exactly thrilled with their new direction last time around, so I was a little hesitant to dive into this latest release from the duo. The question lingered if this would be a return to previous form or a continuation of there new sound. The answer? It’s a little bit of both, but in a good way. They retain their western sound that was awkwardly explored in their previous album, but paired it with some of the best musical elements of their earlier work. The opener “If I Could Tell You” stands out as the best example of this, taking a country-ish melody and balancing it out with sweeping strings. “Burn the Bridge” is another stand out track. It’s a beautifully written ballad that allows you to become immersed in the song.

Besides the bookend tracks, the middle selections also ironically tend to be middling in appeal. They more heavily lean towards their newer western sound. The difference here between their prior album is that they have managed to inject a bit of folk charm ala Sufjan Stevens. “Mountains” is a great example of this.

The best way I can describe this release is that it’s a promising reboot. They’ve managed to continue to embrace their newly chosen direction from last album without losing the instrumental feel and style of their inception. Is it a home-run? No, but it’s a great indication that they are moving in the right direction as they expand their artistic palette without alienating long time fans along the way. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come.

Must Listen: If I Could Tell You; Burn the Bridge

a-Tunes Score: 7.5/10

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