It’s to be expected that someone adept in the art of moving from city to city as a kid should not only need to look to music as an escape hatch, but in turn, to have that music be as far-flung as his own hometown track record. David Stükenberg, the kid with suitcase always in hand (he was the veritable “son a preacher man”), finally landed in southeastern Wisconsin after hanging out in the South for many years, getting schooled in a wide range of subjects and what one might loosely term as “diversity studies.” It translates nicely into his music.
Mountain of Pieces, Stükenberg’s full-length debut, sounds like something many musicians hatch after many, many more years. It’s no doubt that Stükenberg’s life-schooled, gospel-tinged pop is an after-effect from his upbringing. Vocals are the centerpiece of the music – equal parts jazz and soul, Stükenberg’s boyishly pleasing voice adding a winning element to the between soft soul revival and bouncy piano pop. Rhodes piano, harmonica, cellos, banjos, toy pianos, trumpets and guitars populate the songs backed by solid gospel choir vocals, creating a jaunty effect. Mountain of Pieces comes off as a Spoon-ish-sounding work, minus the smarminess, turning more into folk and soft soul revival tendencies. Remember the Milwaukee rock band Hudson? There are elements of their style of funk here, too.