Darius Koski (of Swingin Utters and Filthy Thieving Bastards) follows in a long line of punk rockers turned singer-songwriters. But where a lot of his contemporaries come out sounding like a punk playing folk songs, Darius fully embraces his folk and country influences. The end result, Koski’s debut solo effort Sisu, feels like a fully realized folk album with a punk rock edge.
The first song “Fond Of, Lost To,” is a perfect introduction to the album, and to the style of Darius’ solo material. Acoustic guitar chords truck along with brushed drum beats and standup bass, all behind another guitar playing a riff that you will likely be humming all day. The vocal style is soft and earnest, with just a hint of grit, and the end result is as catchy as any Swingin Utters song. This track also introduces a more country tinged sound than what you’ll find on a Filthy Thieving Bastards record, something that is found throughout the whole album.
Koski explores many ideas and experiments with many different sounds throughout the album. “Listen!” uses slide guitar and harmonic backing vocals to give it a traditional country sound. “The Sound of Waves” leaves the listener feeling like a trip to the beach is needed, while “Paper Tigers, Plastic Lions” will make you want to find a haunted carnival. And while every song sounds different, the whole album still flows together.
Sisu has a lot of high points, but not every song really grabs my attention. Songs like “Empty Thing” and “Contacts and Contracts” seem like filler and I feel like the album would still have been great, maybe even better, if a few songs were cut from the list. They’re not bad songs, they just don’t seem to really add anything to what is laid out by stronger tracks like the ones mentioned above and “So Help Me.”
Overall, Sisu, is a strong debut album for Darius Koski as a solo act. It showcases a lot of different styles and influences in the 15 tracks he has put together over the last decade. Fans of the Filthy Thieving Bastards will surely find something to love here, but any fan of country tinged folk punk would likely also enjoy this one.