DICKIE’s 2015 self-titled release was a moody testimonial of veteran singer-songwriter Dick Prall. After a quick succession of several personal losses, Prall took his experience and nestled them inside a beautifully-layered soundtrack that found DICKIE on the top of several “Best of” lists that year. But Prall’s 20-plus-year career has always proven that he just can’t repeat himself. He’s not even been able to release albums under one consistent name as is reflected in 1998’s The Dick Prall Band /Somewhere About Here, 2001’s The Starch Martins/Dressing Up the Failure, and 2007-2011’s Dick Prall/Fizzlebuzzie, Weightless, and the Inc. EP. The 2019 incarnation of DICKIE finds him working with talented drummer and multi-instrumentalist Billy Barton. And though the one common thread of Prall’s past work has been a penchant for liberal production, he and Barton were charged by producers Pat Sansone (Wilco) and Joshua Shapera to take a hard about-face with the newest record, Minus Thieves.
This restrained approach was performed at The Magic Barn just outside the small town of Solon, IA. The infamous rural studio houses the gear of NYC’s now-defunct The Magic Shop where many iconic artists have recorded, including David Bowie, Blondie, Lou Reed, and The Ramones. With Minus Thieves, DICKIE and company reach back even further into the archives of recording history by applying a simple formula of straightforward guitars of all sonic sizes articulated seamlessly with Barton’s play-for-the-song style of drumming. Sansone and Shapera’s “focus on what matters” production is achieved in a manner that welcomes you to happily ingest the most important part of any pop-tinged record: melody and rhythm. Prall’s tight harmonies and clever lyricism are still apparent, but they’re served in a way that harkens back to the early days of rock and roll. The layers of strings, horns, and synthesizers have all been put on hiatus for Minus Thieves and it’s a refreshing addition -- even a restart -- to Prall’s catalog of albums.
Minus Thieves is a well-earned deep breath from Prall’s beautifully arranged and meticulously orchestrated prior records. It’s a purging to prepare for a new beginning. Even the record’s title track is a call to rid yourself of what holds you back, what’s taking from you. In a time of excess and overload, this album keeps it lean by offering only what’s truly needed.
DICKIE is slated to release Minus Thieves in the spring of 2019, followed by extensive touring throughout the U.S.