Singer/songwriter Duncan Sheik is one of those performers who won"t stand in one artistic spot very long.
Known for his 1996 radio hit "Barely Breathing," and the followup album, Humming, Sheik went into the studio and made the somber Phantom Moon, in which he put New York playwright Steven Slater"s words to music. He then set Shakespeare"s Twelfth Night to music for a New York production starring Jimmy Smits and Julia Stiles. After so much experimentation, Sheik has returned to his original rock and roll form with a new album, Daylight, and a recent tour with Ben Folds. Sheik will be appearing Saturday at the Murat as part of the WZPL Jingle Jam. For Sheik, the album"s tone was very much a conscious move. "I was doing things that were very "left," so on Daylight, I definitely made a decision to write some songs that you can listen to with your friends riding around in your SUV," he said in a recent phone interview. "That was the kind of litmus test. Maybe there"d be a little bit more kind of rock energy around it and not be so somber and melancholy all the time." Some critics said Phantom Moon was overly depressing, an assertion which Sheik shrugs off. "It"s a totally subjective thing," he said. "For some people, that"s their favorite record, and for some, it"s their least favorite record. I just have to keep my head down and write the music I write and do what I"m inspired to do and hopefully it will appeal to as many people as possible." On Daylight, Sheik worked with the multifaceted producer Patrick Leonard, best known for his work with Madonna. "It was interesting to be able to bounce ideas off a musician who"s that deep," he said. "It was challenging, because we forced each other to come up with good reasons for everything, but it was rewarding." An unexpected guest was Foreigner"s Mick Jones, who played guitar on one track. Sheik met Jones through Samantha Ronson, Jones" stepdaughter, whose debut album Sheik is producing. "I was over at the family"s house for Thanksgiving dinner, you know, and we got some guitars and were hanging out. He came up with a guitar riff, and I sketched out some chords around them, and we had a song," Sheik said. "Mick comes from the English blues guitar world, which is not really my universe at all, so it was nice to work with him." The highly anticipated album by Ronson will be ready sometime next year, he said. After playing a series of solo shows, and dates with Folds, playing a radio station concert will be a different experience for him. "For better or worse, the audience at the radio shows isn"t necessarily your real fans per se," Sheik said. "Some of them hopefully are, but it can be people who listen to a lot of different music and not necessarily yours. You kind of have to be more populist about how you choose your set." Tickets for the WZPL Jingle Jam are available through Ticketmaster or by visiting www.cc.com.