Alex Dupree seems not only to be a collector of people, but an extractor of the best possible music from them. On his latest album, Las Meridanzas, the Austin-based artist features no less than 27 musicians picking, blowing, plucking and bowing through his sweeping folk-informed originals.
Dupree’s vocals are somewhat reminiscent of both Tim Booth (frontman of ’90s British pop band James) and Rufus Wainwright. But unlike Wainwright’s polished and sometimes over-the-top arrangements, Dupree’s grip on his backup musicians seems quite loose. It’s refreshing to hear banjo, mandolin and fiddle all played intuitively, complemented by flute, piano, saw, cello, percussion and horns. The instruments swell here and fade there, ultimately creating a defined sonic arc through different chapters, some with subdued Sufjan Stevens or Iron & Wine-like moments, others exploding with hopeful exuberance.
Dupree’s website says: “Folk music is the sound of a community relating itself to itself.” Whether or not you relate to the record, this community of musicians is worth beholding
Alex Dupree and the Trapdoor Band plays the Badlander Friday, Sept. 26, at 9 PM for the KBGA Birthday Bash. $5.