Album Review: Todd Snider – The Excitement Plan

June 9, 2009

It's just not what you think.

Concept: Getting produced by Don Was can still turn a lot of heads. The question — is this solo performer more like Bob Dylan or Randy Newman?

Sound: Well, the sound has a tendency towards simplicity. His voice isn’t so hot, and the songs aren’t very elaborate. The high-end production actually hurts him, adding a reediness to a throaty honk, none of which sounds so appealing individually. The bones of the music are going to have to ride the coattails of the lyrics to memorability.

Lyrics: Snider’s lyrical voice isn’t exactly distinct. His performance and subject matter insist upon the style of Tom Waits, but Snider doesn’t burrow through cultural obscurities or anachronisms. He has the crude timeliness and openness of contemporary New York sweetheart Regina Spektor, but he doesn’t flaunt wandering storybook curlicues or treat realism derisively. Unlike both Waits and Spektor, he does not make a habit of inhabiting other personas. He is a fan of simple pictures and quick jokes, and displays a crucial ability to coax bizarre modern events into the realm of tall tales. The music world is in short supply of folk rockers (rockers period) that can provoke interest without irony, romanticism, or subtext.

Quick And Dirty: Ugly, blunt, and most promising, giving Sam Beam a run for his money in the alt-country/folk rock genre. (♦♦♦♦)

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