Nicolai Dunger | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Swedish singer-songwriter Nicolai Dunger has kept some interesting company on his recent albums. On This Cloud Is Learning, a 1999 record that finally came out stateside this year on the local label Overcoat, he was joined by members of the Soundtrack of Our Lives; Soul Rush (Lakeshore, 2001) featured support by Swedish jazz group the Esbjorn Svensson Trio. And he recorded Tranquil Isolation (Overcoat, 2002) in Louisville with Will Oldham, among others. Each of those albums feels very different: on the rustic Tranquil Isolation the surgical precision of Dunger's slack-jawed warble provides a nice contrast to the layers of loose twang, while Soul Rush collects more dissolute Van Morrison-style exercises. But in every case Dunger projects a deeply romantic and soulful presence, navigating American jazz, soul, blues, and folk with the aplomb of a native. Mercury Rev, performing better than they have on their own recent albums, provide a spectral backdrop for Dunger on his latest, last year's Here's My Song, You Can Have It . . . I Don't Want It Anymore/Yours 4-Ever Nicolai Dunger (Dolores)--which, shockingly, remains unreleased in the U.S. The backing is typically elegant and lush, but also understated and exquisitely sensitive to Dunger's idiosyncratic voice. For this show Dunger is backed by a quartet including two locals: Jason Toth of the Fruit Bats and the Zincs and Ryan Hembrey of Manishevitz. The Zincs play second and Chris Salveter opens. Tue 7/12, 9 PM, Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, 773-525-2508, $8 in advance, $10 at the door.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Frank Swider.

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