Kirk Van Praag
Reviewed by Darcie Stevens, Fri., April 9, 2004
Kirk Van PraagThe Wrest (Super Secret) Kirk Van Praag is a lyricist, employing a Dylanesque song-speak throughout his 2-CD debut. That The Wrest is on Austin punk rock imprint Super Secret doesn't mean Van Praag is punk. He's an amalgamation of workingman blues, broken-hearted balladry, and manic anthems trapped in the constraints of a four-four rhythm and acoustic guitar just dying to be read off the music stands of violinists and played on a baby grand. Equal parts Tom Waits, Nick Cave, and Randy Newman, Van Praag aptly demonstrates his talent for forging a beautiful song. Unfortunately, his singing and musicianship appear rather negligible, merely an avenue down which his words travel. "Where It Went" and "Potluck" ("Last supper is potluck, and you didn't bring a thing") exemplify Van Praag's understanding of religion and relationship. Both "Takes One" and "Fall From Grace" ("The gate looks open, so why are we climbing the walls?") are begging for more than a one-chord progression. What seems like years' worth of writing is all but obfuscated by the length and monotony of The Wrest. Van Praag's words deserve symphonic praise, as well as symphonic backing. Complexity can be the savior of poetry.