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Doug Hoekstra | Waiting (Paste)
Whilst much of Hoekstra's fifth was inspired by the impending arrival of his newborn, he continues to weave intricate stories that unite the minutae of the day to day with wider themes and social commentary. Older songs, knocked into shape out on the road appear here (Sunday Blues, Theresa and Crawling Out From Under were all in the set the last time Doug visited our shores), and fit perfectly on his most intimate and personal record to date. Recorded at home with Hoekstra adeptly handling practically all instrumentation (subtle embellishments were added by friends later), 'Waiting' feels like a private performance, his voice barely rising above a whisper on the seedy Theresa, wherein the titular character spends her life on the San Paolo mean streets, eventually mothering a baby sold to a wealthy American couple. (NB: The track also features a vocal melody reminiscent of Buffalo Tom's Summer, an unlikely comparison until you hear the intro to In The Middle Of The Night which mirrors BT's Wiser...coincidence Doug?) The pace remains restrained throughout, only on the love gone bad tale of Dark Side of a Pearl ("He loosens his tie, kicks of his shoes/She whistles Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues") and the following Screwball Comedy does Hoekstra threaten to break from the pattern. Subtlety is the order of the day and few do it better. The title track which closes the album effortlessly avoids the maudlin, paternal pitfalls of other records inspired by fatherhood, retaining a respectful distance and inviting empathy. Here Hoesktra is "across the world" from his wife, (presumably in a hotel room whilst touring), observing strangers from his window ("I imagine they are late for dramas all their own"). We've come to expect such pitch-perfect musings from Hoekstra, and despite lacking the sonic experimentation and textures of 'Around The Margins' or last year's 'The Past Is Never Past' collection, 'Waiting' is a wholly satisfying, literate listen.

Matt Dornan
CWAS #13 - Autumn 2003