And thus we have one delicacy of an album. These are thirteen tracks that do not sound the same, with varying tempos, vocal styles, and an ultimately musical feel, but one that is highly enjoyable. Many songs have a clear jazz influence ("3 AM") that is much appreciated. The tone of the album is hard to establish, for in parts the feeling is a laid back one (the bluesy "She Knows My Name," or "Ska In G") but is more often of the fast tempo you can do much more than just tap your foot to ("Edge of the Knife"). One of the things you can establish as unifying the album Stout is that all the songs go lovely with a fine alcoholic beverage known as beer.
Also uniting the album is the musical talent of Sturgeon General. The horns are phenomenal. Some people may think of ska horns as giving a honk here, a toot there, a solo in an expected place. Sturgeon General truly transcends such a standard on Stout: the long descending scales on "Darkness," for example. If you're looking for ska that doesn't neglect the horn, look no further than Sturgeon General.
Sturgeon General doesn't neglect any instruments for that matter, nor the vocalist. Vocalist Craig Waddell, also the baritone sax, may not be destined for the opera house, but who cares? He has developed his own signature sound that one can appreciate, whether hearing him taking a melodic line or a nice quick "pick it up."
One track that deserves to be played often is "Teenage Wedding," with its lovely intro that slides into a fast paced ska. The song is fun to listen to and even more fun to dance to. The lyrics "If you can't give me what I need, then baby give me what I want" should be sung as loudly as possible. It's just a downright great song. It is stuck in my head right now.
The only thing not worth getting stuck in your head off the album Stout is the end of "Ska Out G..." where the effect of a record player can be heard for what seems an eternity. While used for effect, its an effect I didnt particularly appreciate as a signal the "record" was over.
One good point about the end of the record is that you then have the opportunity to listen to it all over again.
Stout is an album by Sturgeon General that is clearly as pleasurably inebriating as its title implies.
Catherine Galioto is a contributing writer. Contact her at msmatildarockzone.com.