I bought this album based on the strong review given by David Fricke in Rolling Stone, and my appreciation for what Fricke describes as "the precise twang and breezy introspection of Seventies California rock". I guess I got what I paid for.
I could hear a little Jackson Browne, a little America, (is that Firefall I hear in music introducing "From A Window Seat"?) and some other similar sounds from that genre. I also heard some underwritten lyrics and some overwrought emotions and some really uninspired - though precisely played - music. I've rarely wanted to hit the "skip to next track" button on the first listen of an album as often as I did when listening to this one.
I'll run through it a few more times - like I always do. I'll read the lyrics through - like I always do. In the end, I'm betting that this CD goes back to the store to be traded in, and I have never done that before.
On further listening, there are some points I should mention.
Some of the cuts grew on me more than I expected. "Just Beneath The Surface" is a decent song, with some interesting lyrics - "...Like a feather that finds it's invisible path as it falls" - and a not too trite theme of the things we think but choose not to say. It works musically, though I find the sound mix far too bass heavy on this one (and many others), and the drumming is so pedestrian that it ought to be mixed much further back.
"From a Window Seat" is a fun little ditty about finding something to write a song about. It has brightly played guitar up front (certainly not David Lindley quality, but still OK), but it's still too bass heavy and there's still too much weak drumming.
And then we hit the nadir - "Just My Luck" is pap. Thin vocalizations of sophomoric lyrics with a whining "poor me" attitude. Skip this track. Listen to the next one - "Someone Will"- once only and then skip it for ever after. It's a one trick pony of a song, with one sly lyric to hang it's feed bag from. "Most People" opens with a somewhat interesting guitar line but it's such lightweight writing that I can barely stomach it - "Most people don't talk about the love in their hearts." Yeah? Well, some people talk way too much about their shallow new agey introspection. More shallow and whiny introspection follows on "Something In Common", along with more crappy drumming and little else.
"Hey Lover" was written by someone else, so I won't complain further about the inanity of it's lyrics. It's another fun little song, and thankfully comes to an end quickly. I wish the same could be said for "Stories Don't End". The lyrics to that one are prescient, "...They go on and on, Just someone stops listening, they go on and on..." Quite correct, I stopped listening about a third of the way through.
"From The Right Angle" tries to redeem the album for me. It is well sung, nicely written, played with enough spirit to be interesting, and mixed properly. The ending just... ends. Odd bit, that.
I skipped "Bear Witness" as I'm still digesting. It will either grow on me or not. That is something the last two songs on the album will decidedly not do. Should you want to hear some really pedestrian drumming - cue up "Side Effects" and pay attention to the marching band beats as long as you can. The Reprise of "Just Beneath The Surface" is a throwaway, in my opinion.
And don't forget that's all this review is - my opinion.