Chronogram, May 2013

       For nearly a decade, New Paltz's hard-core troubadour, David Kraai, has honed his own brand of "Cosmic American Music," a blend of country, rock, folk, and soul originally distilled by artists like Gram Parsons, The Band, and Leon Russell. After incessant gigging, writing, and globetrotting, Kraai now shares stages and makes recordings with standard-bearers of the genre: Country Dreamer, his third and finest CD, features contributions from members of The Black Crowes, Gov't Mule, and Emmylou Harris's band. While these guests add stellar musicianship, Kraai's own Saddle Tramps are no slouches, either; of particular note is frequent duet partner and banjoist Amy Laber, Country Dreamer's not-so-secret weapon. When Laber's barefoot-angel harmonies entwine with Kraai's sad-'n'-sexy twang—especially on the rollicking "Old Oak and Chicory" and the country-soul nugget "Home Sweet Home"—the vocal combo goes down like overproof whisky on a cold Catskill night.
       Lyrically, Kraai's got some potent neo-hippie zingers: "Cigarettes and prescription pills can't keep you from going crazy / You'll find out just who you are when you get the chance to be lazy." Country Dreamer offers a wide range of lean, hooky, honky-tonk-friendly fare; raunch-rock on "Gettin' Dirty," Memphis balladry on "Dreamin' With You," and Allmans-y raving on "That's Just the Way We Roll." Whether he's bending those blue notes or shouting to the cheap seats, this Catskill-billy delivers deeply refreshing exuberance, awakening the unashamed flower child in us all.

Poughkeepsie Journal, 02/01/13

       There is something about the image of a “Country Dreamer” that really grabs hold of me.
       I think of fence posts and ridges, and hay bales and campfires, and front porches and hard jamming on acoustic instruments.
       I will also forever associate the notion of a “Country Dreamer” with Gardiner musician David Kraai, who is originally from New Paltz. Kraai’s passion is music — writing it, performing it and seeing it live whenever he can. And the name of his new CD is Country Dreamer.
       What you will get is a showcase of music that recalls simple times, but is steeped in complexity. Kraai’s record is lush, with pedal steel guitar, mandolin and vocals that conjure the attitude of Chris Robinson from The Black Crowes and the humility and innocence of Woody Guthrie.
       I run into Kraai often at shows around the region and he is always good for gigs himself, on an ongoing basis, at any number of area venues.
       Kraai is passionate about good music. He is driven.
       And he looks at composing and performing and delivering a solid night of music to an audience as a calling.
       “A song kind of starts out with one idea or some line that I thought of,” said Kraai. “It’s always rooted in, I guess, my emotions. I take my perspective and make it sound universal.”

Alt Country Netherlands, 12/22/12

       These are strong lyrics, "You might have been to Paris once, but I’ve been to Paris, Texas twice." But, that's what David Kraai has said to the beautiful lady who chose a fast guy on Wall Street instead. Kraai doesn't have a Swiss bank account, give him only the country life. He understands very well that this message probably won't get through to the woman in question. So be it. Country Dreamer is an album where more strong lyrics like these stand out. But, above all, it is an album full of nostalgic longing. That can be seen when this artist from New York's Hudson Valley sings songs like "Home Sweet Home" and "Old Oak And Chicory." On "Gettin' Dirty" we come to know more about: "Skinny dippin' way out of sight / Gettin' dirty / Sometimes dirty is better." It's an uptempo song with piano, saxophone, organ and guitar work that first tends towards Southern country-soul, while the solo at the end brings to mind old fashioned rock 'n' roll. That song about Paris has beautiful steel guitar and splashing banjo. "That's Just The Way We Roll" closes off the country-rock on Country Dreamer with a nice funky rhythm, long guitar solos and the percussion and keys actually lean a little towards Wet Willie.

Daily Freeman, 11/09/12

       Singer-songwriter David Kraai was born in New York City and raised upstate. Though his music leans towards country hard, he’s played the notable New York clubs like CBGBs and Sidewalk Cafe. He released A Denim Fall on his own and high & lonesome as David Kraai & The Saddle Tramps, with guitarist Sean Powell, bass player Jon Stern and drummer Chris Ragucci.
       This release is billed as just David Kraai, though The Saddle Tramps still appear.
       It starts off with the twangy snap of “Old Oak And Chicory” as Kraai paints a picture of faded jeans, old guitars and new goodbyes.
       The lively “Gettin' Dirty” advocates rolling up your sleeves and digging in. A crisp arrangement propels “American Darling.” Neil Franz’ juicy pedal steel kicks off “Paris, Texas Twice” (you’ve gotta have a song about Texas) and the forceful “Straight Shooter” (you gotta have a song about guns) rocks hard. Kraai’s “You Won’t Find A Better Man (To Treat You Right)” is a classic free-wheeling, top-down love ode, while the best one might be “That’s Just the Way We Roll,” where Kraai sings about the comradery and rewards of being in a band.
       The real secret weapon here is the brilliant Danny Louis, whose keyboard touches add the perfect flair to Kraai’s well thought-out country tinged rock songs.
       Kraai’s sound volley’s between Gram Parsons’ proto Alt-country and Bruce Springsteen’s grand epics, and that’s a good place to be.

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