The Duke Spirit - Ex Voto (Cover Artwork)

The Duke Spirit

Ex Voto (2007)

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In anticipation of the release of their sophomore album, London's the Duke Spirit have presented us with an advance EP entitled Ex Voto. This comes in the aftermath of some mixed results in the United States after Cuts Across the Land, their proper full-length debut, was met with moderate critical acclaim but failed to make much of a dent in American markets. This four-song EP showcases a progression that separates the band a bit from other indie UK acts.

What is most evident is an increased range from vocalist Liela Moss. While her voice has always been soulful and raspy, sometimes even a little gritty, Moss now flexes over the accompanying music with greater presence and poise, enabling the band to take a few risks with the addition of keys and horn sections. "Lassoo," which was played live recently on IFC's "Henry Rollins Show," has booming brass that arise during the choruses while "A Wild Hope" almost sounds as though Moss is singing over a Queens of the Stone Age B-Side from 1998.

Whether this is an ex-voto to fans, an homage to their influences and predecessors or a tribute merely to themselves, the Duke Spirit have reentered the musical ring with a teaser that shouldn't be overlooked on the way towards their second full-length album, rumored for a February release here Stateside, especially when they are essentially giving it away to anyone willing to give it, and them, a chance.