Victor Krummenacher: The Cock Crows At Sunrise (2007)

I have always loved a story, especially a tragic one. The Cock Crows At Sunrise is a beautiful tragedy about a man arrested for murder and the woman he leaves behind. Unlike the boobytrapped music of Camper and Monks, this disc is straight swamp blues and Memphis soul. (I know, those words don’t mean a thing to me either. It sounds like Dylan’s Nashville Skyline a lot of the time, if that helps.) At first, I wasn’t sure how much interest I had in a “normal” album from an abnormal artist like Victor Krummenacher. But the quality of the songs and the storytelling quickly won me over. Krummenacher is not a very good singer or an exceptional guitarist. He is an excellent songwriter and storyteller, a throwback to the Bob Dylan/Lou Reed days when musicianship and vocals took a back seat to big ideas. With its mixture of light and dark songs, The Cock Crows At Sunrise could be seen as a Berlin Skyline (that’s a combination of Lou Reed’s Berlin and Dylan’s Nashville Skyline in case you’re wondering). “I Have Always Loved A Party” is pure heartache (compare it to Reed’s “The Bed”), “If I Could Ride That Train” is a gilded treat (compare it to “Lay Lady Lay”). The story is divided in two parts by an instrumental “Interlude” (see earlier comment re: not an exceptional guitarist); the first part follows the accused man, the second his fiancee. The emotional peak of the story occurs at the end of side one, “In Queen City The Girls Are Weeping,” where the hero (or anti-hero) is on the run for murder, with the implication that he’ll “get mine in time.” Choosing to follow the rest of the story from his fiancee’s perspective is brilliant. Abandoned, she sinks into morphine (“My Baby’s Brown Hair”) and greets her fate with a sad, philosophical resolve (“Infinitely Empty,” “When It All Comes Around”). As an ending it’s something of a cheat, but musical stories are a difficult challenge that Krummenacher meets in every other aspect (linear timelines, connecting threads, great music that stands on its own irregardless). Approaching this from the perspective of Monks, only the dark “In Queen City…” will be expected. Yet what’s more surprising is how little Victor Krummenacher needs the crutch of strangeness to sell his songwriting. As a songteller, he scripts the essential scenes, chooses the right lighting and delivers a serious work that succeeds where many have failed.

The Songs
1. Sunday Morning Blues
2. The Southern Heights
3. If I Could Ride That Train
4. Morphone Conceals 1,000 Sins
5. C’mon Miss Nancy
6. Jack of Diamonds (traditional arr. by Victor Krummenacher)
7. In Queen City The Girls Are Weeping
8. Interlude
9. I Have Always Loved A Party
10. My Baby’s Brown Hair
11. Infinitely Empty
12. He Gave Me A Diamond
13. When It All Comes Around

All songs written by Victor Krummenacher unless noted.

The Players
Victor Krummenacher (vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, bass guitar, upright bass, percussion), John Ashfield (12-string guitar), Don Beck (trumpet), John R. Burr (piano), Jeff Ervin (alto and tenor saxophone), John Hanes (drums, percussion), Brent Herhold (tuba), Doug Hilsinger (pedal steel), David Immergluck (electric guitar, mandolin, pedal steel, backing vocals), Bruce Kaphan (Wiesenborn, dobro, pedal steel, guitar, piano, percussion, horn arrangements), Greg Lisher (electric guitar), Kenny Margolis (accordion, B3, piano, Wurlitzer), The Moore Brothers (Greg and Thom) (backing vocals), Paul Olguin (bass guitar), Kevin Porter (trombone), Chris Xefos (keyboards). Produced & engineered by Bruce Kaphan.

The Pictures
Cover painting by Timothy Cummings. Design by Victor Krummenacher. Photography by Anne Hamersky.

The Plastic
Released on CD on February 20, 2007 in the US (Magnetic/MVD Audio, MAG0026/MVD0507CD).

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