Over the course of three albums, "avant-folk" singer-songwriter Dudley Saunders has populated a veritable township with his strange,
Flannery O'Connor-ish characters. And now he is literally putting that "town" online,
in a unique new website. At DudleySaunders.com, web-surfers find a panoramic, 1920’s-era photo of the
entire population of a small town. But as they scroll through the sepia-toned crowd,
they discover that the twisted people in Dudley's songs are hidden there. Signs appear over them: Whore. Killer. Masochist. A click
brings you video of Dudley taking you inside the fascinating background on the songs and the characters' lives.
As F.A.M.E. describes it, “Saunders is exploring the darker corners of the psyche and culture with a psychologist's fascination for the aberrant. The lovely chamber strings and lamentive minor chords? They're meant to lure you into the composer's webwork of madness, seamy side streets, subtle transgressions, and forever menacing shadows with their smacking lurkers.” And the people hidden in Dudley's town are (says NEXT BIG THING REVIEW) "the people behind locked doors, or hidden in crowds or just out of sight a scary beautiful dream."
An ongoing project, DudleySaunders.com will bring new characters online at the start of every month, including previously unreleased material, until the town is full.
Dudley has been exploring the hidden lives of margina-lized people since his late teens,
starting first with his award-winning performance art pieces, then in fiction, documentary film and - finally - indie-folk music.
The Kentucky native first began performing his "surreal, modern folk tales" (Village Voice) to downtown New York audiences in the early 90s,
with a musical style halfway between the experimental chamber pop of The Decemberists and the Appalachian folk of Gillian Welch
a style NEW YORK PRESS called "a new kind of American balladry",
which lead AMPLIFIER to dub him "a masterful storyteller in Bruce Springsteen/Leonard Cohen/Tom Waits territory."
After a brief foray with the Knitting Factory’s label, Dudley released three solo albums with New York's Fang Records, most recently THE EMERGENCY LANE.
He now lives and records in Los Angeles, where he is at work on a new album, NOVELSONGS.
The Sound and the Songs
With its emotional tight-vibrato and effortless range, Dudley's voice is often compared to Chris Isaak and Jeff Buckley,
and MuzikReviews recently declared it "one of the best voices on the alt-country scene."
The songs, though, operate more in the scene-painting mode of Leonard Cohen/Tom Waits, and tell haunting tales of bohemian life, darkly detailed and sometimes hallucinatory. In MUSHY-HEADED KID, for instance, a frightened man is "merging with the cracking wall/the crack extends into his face/the girls are bickering in the hall/yeah, he says, I guess/you do belong/in this place." Or witness the "buck-tooth call girls on the corner" in THE RAIN ON 8TH AVENUE, "like red-haired roses in the rain/dropped off by a drunken mourner/on the wrong grave."