Home Read Erik Koskinen | Burning the Deal

Erik Koskinen | Burning the Deal

The Americana outlier gets under your skin with his deep, dark fifth album.

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WHO IS HE? An Americana singer-songwriter who was born in Fort Collins, Colo., raised in Northern Michigan and upper New York state, then lived in Minneapolis — until he moved to a farm near the town of Cleveland, Minn., where he now owns a recording studio.

WHAT IS THIS? His fifth studio album — a deep, dark slow-burner whose rootsy range reflects his transient upbringing and showcases his unique approach to songwriting and performance.

WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? Erik Kosinen’s dusky, low-wattage drawl might remind you a bit of J.J. Cale — but his ominous lyrics and tense, knotty compositions put him in a class by himself. Having Bernie Larsen in the producer’s chair and top-shelf players like steel-guitar master Greg Leisz and drummer Jay Bellerose in the lineup doesn’t hurt either.

WHAT WOULD BE A BETTER TITLE FOR THIS ALBUM? The Real Deal.

HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? Alone after midnight with the lights out.

WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Literate, unhurried, reflective, grim, stark, layered, dusty, plainspoken, rueful, honest.

WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? Opening track Gun sets the unsettling tone quite nicely. Thankfully, rangy rockers like Darlin and Down in the Factory keep things from getting too disturbing.

WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY? ‘How come this guy isn’t huge?’

HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? Plenty — this one gets under your skin fast.

IF THIS ARTIST WERE A NOVELIST, WHO WOULD HE BE? Jim Thompson.

SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL? It’s a deal at any price.