Music: Humming

Duncan Sheik

He's best known as a serious, soul-baring folk-rocker, but the chart success of Sheik's 1996 single Barely Breathing outed him as a pop tunesmith with a knack for gorgeous songwriting that doesn't resort to schmaltz. Sheik's new CD veers back toward his dour side, where he finds plenty to be glum about--the perils of record-business starmaking in Nothing Special and the falseness of big-city life in That Says It All. It's no surprise that he intends to avoid being trapped in lightweight pop: he's 28 and wants a long career. But Humming's dark overhang of melancholy and shortage of buoyant tunes...

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