Broken homes. Sweeping landscapes. A castle. A yellow house. A steel bridge.
A length of rope. Angels and devils. And of course economics. Always
These are the images that flow through Dogs & Donkeys, Christian Kiefer's
fifth full-length album and the first full-length project released by
Like all of Kiefer's releases, the images in Dogs & Donkeys coalesce around
a particular theme. This album is "about" economics, although noting this
fact so bluntly denies the subtlety with which the topic is addressed.
Telling two narratives simultaneously, Kiefer's new album interweaves
completely disparate lives into a single narrative thread, ultimately
exploring the relationships between economic pressures from a variety of
Of course, such concerns are risky. One can easily slip into Roger Waters
territory: grandiosity or pretentious psychobabble or soapbox-style
proselytizing. But Kiefer's concerns here are not to preach, but rather to
explore, and his careful imagery speaks volumes of his background in the
study of American literature (in fact, Kiefer recently completed a Ph.D. in
the subject at the University of California, Davis).
Perhaps because of his interest in poetry and fiction, Kiefer's latest
project (like his previous releases on Extreme) has a novelistic quality.
The imagery bisects territory staked out by T.S. Eliot and Saul Bellow and
mixes with the poetry of James Wright.
Kiefer has been fortunate enough to have worked with such fine
instrumentalists as Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, and Joe Craven (all former
or present members of the David Grisman Quintet) and Kronos Quartet-alum
This time around, Kiefer has enlisted the services of legendary keyboard man
Garth Hudson of The Band (on tracks 5 and 10), Wilco guitarist Nels Cline
(on tracks 4, 11 and 12), and the sweet vocal harmonies of Low's Alan
Sparhawk and Mimi Parker (on 7, 8, and 9). The effect is a devastatingly
beautiful musical journey.
--Undertown Music press release, june 2007