Short Takes: Scotty McCreery, Brian Wilson, Buddy Holly And More

Videos by American Songwriter

David Mead
[Rating: 3 1/2 stars]

It’s no surprise that Fountains of Wayne’s Adam Schlesinger executive produced this gem based around songs about… well, dudes. Mead’s vocals and delivery are reminiscent of a Paul Simon/10CC/Steely Dan/FOW mashup, but the music is all sparkling, effervescent, hooky pop with spicy, witty lyrics you’ll be singing after the first spin. The sweet arrangements which stretch from strings to rocking guitars jump out of the speakers with a ’70s mindset best exemplified by the tongue in cheeky “No One Roxx This Town No More.”

Scotty McCreery
Clear as Day
(Mercury Nashville/19)
[Rating: 3 stars]

“I Love You This Big” is, regardless of your gender, the most suggestive pick-up line song ever sung by a fresh faced, 17-year-old, good old boy American Idol winner, especially one who loves his momma and the King James Bible as much as Scotty does. He lays his silky baritone over a batch of sweet, slick, country ballads and light rockers on his debut that exudes the same kind of aw-shucks likeability as he did on the show. That’s good news for anyone who voted for him, and even though there’s nothing here Randy Travis didn’t do first, McCreery flies the C&W flag proudly, singing hummable cherry picked songs that spotlight his impossibly deep voice and backwoods spirit.

Ramshackle Heart
(Song, By Toad)
[Rating: 3 stars]

Antifolk proponent and NYC legend for all things unplugged, offbeat and misfit, Lach is known more for his organizational efforts to launch the movement and support crossover stars such as Michelle Shocked and Hamell On Trial than for his own music. He’s not much of a melody writer or singer, but his sung/spoken delivery and sharp/skewed, often humorous way with words makes these ten ramshackle songs worth listening to, at least for those who don’t adhere to folk as a genre with strict limitations. Mojave 3’s Neil Halstead produced, played on and recorded this set in his studio, and it’s likely his hand that makes this Lach album somewhat more commercially amenable than previous releases.

Paul Burch
Words of Love: Songs of Buddy Holly
[Rating: 3.5 stars]

Hopefully this terrific low key homage to Buddy Holly’s fertile catalog doesn’t get lost in the hoopla of the handful of higher profile tributes currently making the rounds on what would have been the bespectacled Texas singer/songwriter’s 75 birthday. The 13 songs are familiar, but the stripped down, less-is-more philosophy that has worked well for Burch on his own music, finds the sweet spot in Holly’s tunes. It helps that his voice is eerily similar to Holly’s and sympathetic backing from the WPA Ballclub captures the jittery rockabilly energy inherent in, but often obscured from, this material. The loose yet focused approach is far closer to what Holly originally intended than the somewhat overproduced superstar tributes that lose much of the heart, soul and sweet simplicity of Holly’s gems that Burch displays in his versions.

Brian Wilson
In the Key of Disney
[Rating: 3 1/2 stars]

There was always a sun kissed simplicity about the music in Disney’s films which makes it a natural for America’s most beach-worshipping singer-songwriter, Brian Wilson. His take on eleven songs from the Disney catalog—spanning decades old animated classics like Snow White to the more current fare of Toy Story 3—is an immaculately produced collection that feels like Wilson had as much fun recording it as the movies are to watch. In short it sounds like a classic Beach Boys album with sumptuous vocal harmonies and the layered but buoyant Phil Spector approach that Wilson has used to such acclaim in the past.


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