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Christian Kiefer: Dogs & Donkeys

[cover art]

Fifth solo album from singer/songwriter Kiefer, released in June 2007, with Garth Hudson guesting on keyboards on "Taxonomy" and "Fisher King."

Broken homes. Sweeping landscapes. A castle. A yellow house. A steel bridge. A length of rope. Angels and devils. And of course economics. Always economics.

These are the images that flow through Dogs & Donkeys, Christian Kiefer's fifth full-length album and the first full-length project released by Undertow.

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 angles.

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 Joan Jeanrenaud.

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


  1. Prologue
  2. Pretty White Clouds
  3. Lovers, The
  4. Economic Theory
  5. Taxonomy
  6. No Swan So Fine
  7. Afterglow
  8. Coronation Day
  9. Stay
  10. Fisher King
  11. Lie Still
  12. Slow Rivers
  13. Epilogue

Christian Kiefer - Dogs & Donkeys - 2007 - Undertow Music 0036

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