In "A Short One on Life," the opening track of Chicago singer-songwriter Rich Krueger's as-yet-unreleased new CD, he tells us that one thing he's learned is that "life ain't that long."  And maybe it isn't, but his songs sure as hell are - there's hardly a one under 4 minutes in length and several venture into the 6 or 7 minute range - but Krueger's got stories to tell, moods to paint, and sometimes his brilliant, exuberant  bursts require longer than the standard radio airplay time length.  His unbridled wordiness, passion and irreverence invite comparisons to Loudon Wainwright III, Randy Newman, and the Sex Pistols.


Krueger is no musical neophyte, having weathered Chicago's music scene for years with his madcap band The Dysfunctionells, now scattered to the winds.  For this new project he gathers stellar players from Chicago, Tulsa, and other locales including Scott Daniel on fiddle, Seth Lee Jones on guitar, Brian Wilke on pedal steel, a pounding rhythm section and an unearthly gospel diva emitting celestial warbles and shrieks.  In "The Gospel According to Carl," Krueger presents us with an over-the-hill used car salesman's philosophic musings on life and religion which carry the listener to heights of transcendent joy.


"77 and 17" is a hard-rocking autobiographical retrospective which among other things reveals Krueger's surprisingly mature actual age - 57 - and some of his early influences and losses.  "Can't See Me In This Light," a beautiful mournful tune powered by accordion and electric guitar, asks for love, forgiveness and redemption, while "What Is It That You Want" is an angry wake-up call to the complacent non-participants of our society.


Throughout this lyrically artful and musically diverse collection, Krueger's soulful voice carries us over his debris-strewn chaotic emotional landscape to a place of catharsis and - dare we say it - peace.