He comes with testimonials from both Robert Earl Keen, Jr. and Steven Page (of Barenaked Ladies), so you know he's got some hipster-folk credibility. And the songs from this album, most of which have been previously issued in other versions on earlier albums, are taken from his current stage play, so you know he's got some literary credentials. And he also cultivates a gritty street-person image, though you might be forgiven a little bit of suspicion on that score. Still, there's no denying the cleverness and humor in his lyrics or the simple attractiveness of his melodies. His wryness -- most enjoyably showcased on the gently self-mocking "Darn Folksinger" and the subtly self-congratulatory "Street Takes You In" -- generally stays on the right side of smug, though not always: "What an Idiot He Is" builds a clichéd straw man and tears him down with self-righteous glee. That song is a prime example of the snobbishness of the bien pensant, of the person who would never consider eating Cheez Whiz and considers that a sign of character. But it's easy to forgive missteps like that in the warm glow of "Anna Marie"'s gentle Caribbean lilt and of the unselfconscious affection of "Dog." Recommended.
|Label:||Mad River Records|