Review: Lee Feldman Introduces ‘Dr. Future’

Lee Feldman/Dr. Future/UM
Three Out of Five Stars

Lee Feldman takes a unique approach to his music. His sound and stylings are primarily spawned from solo piano, with intermittent vocals and occasional rhythmic support from bass and drums. Imagine a mix of Paul McCartney’s furtive solo offerings circa the first McCarney album and the wit and whimsy displayed by Randy Newman, and you’ll have an idea of what to expect on this, the fifth solo album Feldman’s released over the course of his 28-year recording career.

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Feldman’s previous credits include a degree from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, praise he received for his earlier output, an animated musical titled Starboy, and a teaching position at Manhattan’s Third Street Music School Settlement. That said, Feldman takes a decidedly light-hearted approach to this particular piece of work, one that often comes across in the form of song snippets rather than fully fueled pop pieces. 

It’s an unusual and often odd offering to be sure, mostly devoid of ready hooks and fully infused choruses. The sound varies from the skittish to the cerebral, courtesy of songs that drift along in a sort of atmospheric haze (“Cowboy Looking for Dr. Future,” the tellingly-titled “I Am On Drugs,” “Walk Away”), wistful ballads (“Hands On the Sink,” “Anxiety”) and occasional upbeat excursions that fall in-between (“The Overture,” “Atheists,” “My Name Used To Be Bob Stein”). The album was obviously conceived as a conceptual piece—a pop opera, if you will—but a libretto ought to be provided in order to follow along. 

As an example, there’s the song titled “Hello.” It captures a one-way conversation, with the singer simply repeating the word “hello” while waiting for a response that never comes from the opposite end of the line. It’s fueled by funk to a certain extent, but the ability to find context may be a challenge, especially at the outset.

Better to consider the album as a conceptual effort overall—one that’s obtuse at times, but mostly esoteric and experimental given its ambitious intents. By boasting a sound that’s out of the ordinary, Dr. Future stakes out a particular place in the present.

Courtesy Lee Feldman

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