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Victor Krummenacher

Hard to See Trouble Coming – 2015 (Veritas)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Victor Krummenacher

Remarkably prolific, even by most modern multi-tasker standards, bassist/guitarist/vocalist Victor Krummenacher has played a critical role in the Camper Van Beethoven hierarchy, not only as a crucial member of that essential combo, but also its various offshoots, Monks of Doom, Camper Van Chadbourne and the current incarnation of the new mother ship, Cracker. Moreover, he can claim a prodigious solo career that numbers 10 individual albums, numerous guest appearances, and a pair of prestigious journalism gigs, including stints as an art director for the San Francisco Bay Chronicle and later, Wired Magazine.

With that accumulated accomplishment, you'd think Krummenacher wouldn't sound so cross at times, but sure enough, the trio of tunes that kick off the tersely titled "Hard To See Trouble Coming" offer the suspicion that indeed all may not be well in Krummenacher's world. The title track that starts the proceedings is as ominous as its title would imply. "If I Could Only Close My Eyes" is desirable in its own way, despite the desperation imparted by its recurring refrain. "An Angel Who Sings Just Like Jaqui McShee" is lovely, but laconic. The rootsy sounding trio "Chemtrails," "An Act of Kindness" and "Tennessee & Pancho" provide the album's most persuasive melodies, placing them among the more engaging offerings. Even so, it's the gilded acoustic ballad "The Love of My Dreams" and the yearning desire of "The Kidalton Cross" that make for the loveliest entries the album has to offer.

Despite the somber status established early on, "Hard To See Trouble Coming" proves an essential listen. Indeed "All of This is Mine" sounds like it would find a perfect place on any title by Richard Thompson, while the pounding pulse of "If You Won't Break My Heart, I Won't Stand a Chance" has an inherent intensity that makes it practically spellbinding. True, maybe Krummenacher could stand to lighten up at times, but his angst is so entirely mesmerizing that it reaps its own rewards.