Damion Suomi & The Minor Prophets
Go, And Sell All Your Things
Somewhere between Flogging Molly and Langhorne Slim lies Damion Suomi (pronounced sue-me), a rootsy Floridian rocker with a strong dose of the Irish in his rollicking and reeling Americana. His voice is a ringer for Michael Stipe, and in his religious fascinations one can hear echoes of David Bazan. Those overtones rule Go, And Sell All Your Things, analbum rife with biblical allegory, spiritual searching and hope for redemption. As such, it almost feels like the brighter flipside of a Murder By Death record.
Though it’s hardly Sunday school, the dozen songs are laced in divine longing, which can be somewhat taxing for the less metaphysically inclined. Suomi invokes Sodom and Gomorrah on “Holy Ghost,” draws from a famous Jesus parable for “Mustard Seed” and visits with “A Dog From Hell (And His Good Advice),” which notes, “We’re all going to die/That alone should make us love each other/But it don’t,” before concluding, “If you’re gonna try, go all the way.”
Suomi has an obvious talent for blending Irish elements like Celtic folk guitars, mandolin, accordion and martial beats with more lively, ramshackle Americana. His voice is strong, and there are some quite fetching melodies. However, all musicians should probably be counseled against pursuing a concept album among their first couple efforts. (It’s less a straight narrative than a thematic trajectory of searching that concludes like a shaggy dog story with the determination, “Love your god with your heart/Love your neighbor as your own and the rest is just a guess as good as mine.”) The writing simply isn’t strong enough to sustain it, and the questioning undertone creates a monochromatic thematic thread whose lyrics aren’t consistently strong enough to support the ruminative subject matter.
That said, there are winning moments that bode well for Suomi’s future. Among the best tracks are the infectious “A Dog From Hell (And His Good Advice),” the mournful ballad “The Teacher” and the bounding, city name-checking road ode, “City On A Hill.” As for the rest, it’s decent enough but falters under the weight of its structural conceit. Suomi’s better at tapping into his everyman and pondering the beer-drinking, joint-rolling sin we all suffer than spending an entire album waxing philosophical. It isn’t necessarily sophomoric, but it gets in the way of the songs and would be best managed in small doses.