x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Donald Fagen's Sunken Condos

Meticulous but funky, studied but never remotely dull, this album keeps rewarding over repeat plays.

Donald Fagen
Sunken Condos
Reprise
****

Super slick production? Check. Dry humour? Check. Jazzy, road-less-travelled chord changes? Check. Sunken Condos is immediately recognisable as the work of Donald Fagen, the voice and keyboardist behind such Steely Dan hits as Reelin' in the Years and Haitian Divorce.

Decade-plus gaps separated his first three solo albums, but this one comes a mere six years after 2006's Morph the Cat. At 64, Fagen now has to press on.

Ageing seems a key theme on Sunken Condos, but the angles are always interesting. The narrator of the horns and wah-wah guitar-imbued Slinky Thing is paranoid about losing his much younger girlfriend, while on The New Breed, a song about technologically gifted whippersnappers, Fagen sings, "You look at me and think: 'he's ready for Jurassic Park.'."

Marimba, clavinet and warm double-bass help propel the album's impeccable grooves, and William Gallison's sweet, Stevie Wonder-like harmonica on I'm Not The Same Without You is a treat. Meticulous but funky, studied but never remotely dull, Sunken Condos keeps rewarding over repeat plays. It's good that it does, too, for at his current work-rate, Fagen's next solo disc won't land until 2018.