Morph the Cat wrapped up an alleged trilogy in 2006 - a trilogy that only became apparent when Donald Fagen's three solo albums were boxed in a set called The Nightfly Trilogy in 2007 - and Fagen then busied himself with live performances, something he avoided at the peak of his popularity in the '70s and '80s
Album · 2012 · 9 Songs. Age hasn't mellowed Donald Fagen. Steely Dan has always been a band obsessed with perfection, with songs that either act as brainteasers or dark tales lurking under a shiny veneer, and Fagen continues this approach into senior status. He's surprised by the advantages of a relationship gone sour on "I'm Not the Same Without You," while a blues harmonica cuts through the smooth jazz-pop. Weather in My Head" questions the emotions swirling around one's mind.
Sunken Condos is an album built on monotony that still has a sense of narrative. Much like Steely Dan’s unfairly maligned Gaucho locks the grooves of its hit predecessor, Aja, into a snide, sultry trance, Donald Fagen’s Sunken Condos sounds like his last solo outing, Morph the Cat, might after a visit to the hypnotist. The album has a relentless, almost devious smoothness to it. The drum and bass tracks are presumably performed by musicians, but have such undisturbed momentum that they might as well be mechanical; anonymously pentatonic horn and guitar riffs achieve a similar, barely tonal repetitiousness
Sunken Condos is loaded with Fagen’s instantly familiar signature moves, as he breaks out his long-codified and precisely calibrated vocabulary. The album’s most sublime piece is Weather In My Head, a modified midtempo blues in the manner of Pretzel Logic and another scintillating workout for Herington, with its slam-dunk payoff, They may fix the weather in the world/Just like Mr. Gore said/But tell me what’s to be done/Lord –’bout the weather in my head. The lone misstep is a cover of Isaac Hayes’ 1978 funk workout Out Of The Ghetto, but the band blows through it with such exhilaration that Fagen can be forgiven for this indulgence. What matters is that Donald’s in back in his self-referencing sweet spot, and all’s right with the world.
Donald Fagen: Sunken Condos. Yet I felt compelled to attend the New York Rock and Soul Revue starring Donald Fagen and Walter Becker in 1992. That was only the second show of the tour, but the half-dozen Steely Dan songs were played with an urgency that washed away my reservations. When Donald Fagen raised his melodica to cue the horn section during Josie and the musicians responded with a look of intense purpose, it struck me that I was witnessing an artist who had as much business leading a band as anyone. As with those releases, Sunken Condos boasts impressive musicianship. William Galison’s harmonica adds a touch of sweetness to the proceedings while Michael Leonhart’s vibes bring an eerie, otherworldly chill.
Donald Fagen's fourth solo album for Warner Reprise, Sunken Condos, will be released on October 16. His first three solo albums, The Nightfly, Kamakiriad and Morph the Cat comprised the project known as "The Nightfly Trilogy. Sunken Condos begins a chapter in the creative evolution of this innovative artist, whose career is still going strong after forty years. The nine tracks on Sunken Condos were co-produced by Michael Leonhart and Donald. All but one track, an Ashkenazi recasting of Isaac Hayes' "Out of the Ghetto," are Fagen originals
For all Fagen's obsession with precision, this still feels like a remarkably relaxed, quietly confident album-sleek, urbane and sophisticated. 70. Simultaneously taut and lush jazz-funk-pop.