By Elysa Gardner
One of the perks of having a truly distinctive musical voice is that you don’t have to constantly refresh your sound to stay relevant. For 40 years, with and without Steely Dan, Donald Fagen has delivered a lithe, urbane, instantly recognizable hybrid of rock, jazz and funk.
So while Fagen’s latest album, Sunken Condos (*** out of four), ostensibly represents a new chapter after the trilogy that began with 1982’s The Nightfly, fans can pretty much know what to expect.
The opening track, “Slinky Thing,” nods to the Steely Dan classic “Hey Nineteen”; while “Weather In My Head” references Al Gore and Quake TV in lamenting the aftershocks of betrayal.
“Miss Marlene” is wittier and catchier still, a shimmering nostalgia trip rife with the kind of elegant but impish innuendo that few artists of Fagen’s vintage can still pull off.
If Sunken Condos offers few surprises, it at least assures us that some musicians can grow older without losing either their groove or their dignity.