TAKE ME HOME













Gary Glauber
Reviews:
November, 2004


Scroll down for reviews of releases by Bowman, Scott Murray, Jonathan Kuss & The Corporation, Farrah and Edmund's Crown

Bowman
Living To Dream

(self-released)

Release Date: September 22, 2004

www.bowmanband.com

Since this appears to be Boston's year (curses reversed and then some), it's not a big surprise to find a Bostonian making great strides on the rock/pop musical front as well. Bowman's second self-released album, Living To Dream, is a sensitive and melodic paean to the daily throes of complex emotions we often find ourselves caught within. With great style, the singer/songwriter has elevated his game with these fourteen new tracks, some of which were produced or recorded by former Letters To Cleo bassist Scott Reibling, now a highly respected producer in his own right (American Hi-Fi, Nina Gordon).

The sound is clean and controlled, yet hard-edged enough to convey a sense of live performance. Don't let the boyish good looks of Bill Bowman fool you; he's far more than a pretty face. This is a man who writes compelling songs that unravel patiently, building in structure and intensity all along.

In a smart move, Bowman enlisted a lot of local musical talent to accompany him. Among those whose talents are on display here are former Wheat bassist Bob Melanson, drummer Gabe Cabral (Johnny A.), bassist Ed Valaskus (The Gentlemen), guitarists Paul Amenta (Wrench) and Charlie O'Neal (Must), and keyboardists Tom Smith (Elcodrive) and Dave Ramsey (Swinging Steaks). These musicians come together as a tight unit, a cohesive whole in the service of Bowman's music.

The radio-ready rocker "Save Me" opens the proceedings, a man desperate for outside assistance, searching for an answer that he cannot seem to find. Bowman shouts out the lyrics atop an infectious melody.

My current favorite track is "Enemy," another of those tunes you can't seem to get out of your head. Again we get a narrator on the verge of unstoppable catastrophe, stuck in the habit of creating mountains he'll then have to climb, who wants nothing more than to get out of his own way: "Sometimes I see the deepest parts of you and me / Sometimes I see that I'm my own worst enemy."

Bowman goes into a reflective Lennonish mode with "So Many Ways To Say Goodbye," employing effective mellotron nuances amid the guitars and drums. Bowman shows he's no stranger to the feelings behind a sad farewell: "So many ways to hide it / So many ways to cry / So many ways to say goodbye."

"Scream" is another tight rocker that builds gradually into one of those feel-good sing-along arena rockers, a call to arms to enliven a dull life through heightened decibels. Similary, "Get Some" also trades on the rocking tradition, doing a fine job of distilling a prom night's promises and hormonal desires amid plenty of guitar.

Bowman is fond of songs that build gradually. "Something's Wrong" is an example of this, following a guitar line into dulcet harmonies and an oft-repeated chorus (okay, it's fairly obvious that something's gone wrong). Still, it's a well-wrought track.

"What I Don't Know" is very Beatle-esque pop. This ultra-melodic number features nice harmonies on the chorus, but stick around for the stunningly pretty vocal and guitar-laden middle bridge - you'll be glad you did. It's phenomenal. Another gorgeous track is "All This," spinning out from a simple guitar riff and letting love lead the way out from a personal darkness.

"Alright" is another reflective number, examining the lies we tell ourselves about how things will change: "and you realize that there's more to love, so you try to keep holdin' on." This one reminds me of the earlier songs of REM in some respects (though the middle bridge is very Beatle-esque).

In spite of a number of upbeat rockers, the disc largely is populated with melodic mid-tempo ballads. "Give You My Heart Tonight" is a good one, featuring great bass work from Melanson and sweet guitar fills that echo the heartfelt emotions of the song.

"Ordinary Life" really spotlights Bowman's superb emotive vocals (he studied with renowned vocal coach Mark Baxter). While this is a well-arranged band effort, parts of the song show how well the man can do with mere vocals and guitar (and, after all, he did serve his time performing his songs in the T-stations of Boston). This song bemoans the fate of an ordinary life, and recommends the dreamer's alternative: "I'm dreamin' today / Maybe dream my life away…/ With no school to learn, no job that earns, phony gas chamber with a love I'm trying to burn…"

"Thanksgiving" is another personal winner in the folk rock storytelling tradition. He's headed down south (perhaps returning to Maryland after spending time at Berklee College of Music) and eager to see his small town boulevard and his old love. Any way you slice this nostalgic nugget, it's deliciously filling holiday fare.

"Upside Down" covers some similar subject territory as other songs here, talking about how life is making him crazy, his head "turning 'round" and such, eager to start living the dream.

"Nothing" ends the CD in fine fashion, a full group effort featuring some fine guitar by Bowman and Paul Amenta, some tasty bass from Ed Valuskas and more fine drums from Gabe Cabral. The sweet coda mixes sounds from Dave Ramsay and Bowman.

Bowman intentionally keeps the lyrics abstract throughout, choosing to capture the introspective essence behind true tales in each of these songs, yet he avoids crossing the line into overly maudlin sentiments. While the man can rock, his storytelling seems firmly rooted in a more folk/balladic tradition. There also are hints of musical kinship to the likes of Owsley, Del Amitri, and even some Tom Petty at times.

He's very much in control here, overseeing a quality product from track to track, with no filler. What's more, his beautifully expressive voice elevates the songs above the fray of merely good pop/rock. Bowman, Scott Reibling and Drew Allison manage to capture the charisma and talent that accompanies the fine songwriting.

Talent like Bowman's deserves to be heard. With Living To Dream, Bowman successfully reverses the musical curse of the sophomore jinx, and does so with melodic talent and mature aplomb. This is a confident, accomplished album, and one that should bring the man well-deserved acclaim (no need to wait 86 years for that, please).

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Scott Murray
Stutter


(Slow Town Productions)

Release Date: ?

www.platonicbomb.com

It's always a pleasant surprise when one encounters the rare debut artist who bursts onto the scene with fully crafted songs that sport infectious melodies alongside intelligent lyrics. Such is the case with the talented Scott Murray and his mellow initial collection Stutter. Here are ten impressive songs with clean, layered soundscapes courtesy of engineer John Mark Painter (Ben Folds Five). Murray writes some of the songs himself, and co-writes others with guitar players Chris Donohue and John Mallory.

Right from the get-go, there's a refreshing sense of intelligence and candor to the music. It's fairly obvious Murray isn't your typical insular musician-type. Rather, Scott has worked as a volunteer in Africa, South America, Eastern Europe and the jungles of Papua, New Guinea, helping to build schools, hospitals, and bridges when not spending time with local orphans. He translates some of this worldly experience into his songwriting, and it also is evident in his occasionally plaintive vocals.

For the most part, this is simple and sweet listening, acoustic-based guitar pop that goes down easily. That most of these pleasant songs come with intelligent messages is an added bonus.

Painter has assembled an impressive team of Nashville musicians to accompany Murray on this debut. In addition to hit-maker Mallory and Donohue, Ken Lewis and Sean McWilliams share drum duties, Jamie Kenney handles keyboards, Andrew Ramsey (and Painter himself) add electric guitars, and Darrin Brumley, Laura Donohue, Rebecca Brown and Diana Beach divide and share background vocals.

The disc opens with "Dry Bones," a lovely melody enhanced by sweet instrumentation and harmonies, but more importantly, with meaningful lyrics that actually follow the parameters of meter and rhyme. Murray wows me with his simple ways of capturing the spirit of belief beyond faded hope that there are chances yet to come: "Brittle dry dull as sin / I'm suffocating beneath this skin / this thread of hope is wearing thin / but it keeps me hanging on / Heaven come and give to me / a heart of flesh and eyes to see / from this wasteland rescue me / before I'm too far gone."

Painter uses accordion accents to give a continental flavor to "Breathe Into Me." Again, there's a prayer-like reverence to Murray's God-inspired lyrics, but they don't seem so heavy within the context of the dulcet music: "I've heard there's room for heaven inside a human heart / but mine is full of broken toys and ugly modern art / I mean it's one hell of a rummage sale as anyone can see / but if you'll only take it, you can have it all for free / Breathe into me / these lifeless conceptions need to taste reality."

The worldly beats that drive "Freedom's Chains" recall India or parts of the Middle East. There's an exotic air to this poignant message of how we often are blinded by our own freedoms, and again, a pervasive intelligence to the lyrical phrasings ("love's last gasp a wistful whisper").

It's back to friendly Americana sounds with "Shine." Here Murray takes on love, and its contrary nature: "Love can blind you, love can make you see / love can bind you, love can set you free / love can remind you of who you want to be / if love's light finds you, let it shine on me." There's a nice Bacharach-style horn accompaniment here and a warm accordion accent as well.

In the uber-catchy "Gun To Your Head," Murray serves up a Dylan-esque take in censuring those who choose to play the blame game rather than accept the responsibility for the state they're in and the choices they make in not doing what they want. Something about this song's vocals reminds me of George Usher.

Perhaps the standout song in this very good collection is the political gem "Belgrade Station," wherein Murray exposes the hypocrisy of our foreign involvements: "For the sake of democracy / we create a bloody tragedy / because it's good for the economy of the land of the free." His descriptions of these moments in a Yugoslavian summer are spot-on, chilling and eye-opening.

"Love For The Sake Of Love" is another well-informed lyric couched within a pleasantly disarming melody, this one taking on the free feelings following the "death of love."

Murray (along with Donohue and Mallory) has a knack for creating compelling aural soundscapes, songs that are well crafted and built for the long haul. Such is the case with the lengthy ballad "Long Way Down," which again finds Murray in semi-religious mode, espousing a Job-like philosophical stance, maintaining that sometimes you have to lose it all, head all the way down, before you can find hope and the light of heaven. It's a noble position - solidly against materialism - and one that Murray no doubt has experienced first-hand.

One of the strongest songs here is the infectious "In The Name of Love." Murray's talking about the love of God, but his superior lyrics can be applied to human love as well (for the most part): "You broke like the morning / woke me from my dreams of who I am / gave me a glimpse of what I could be / The vision has faded now like a dying sun into the sea / and I can't remember the beauty I have seen."

The album closes with the tribal rhythms of "Leaving The Night." Once again, Murray's message of redemption through finding God's light is barely cloaked in clever words - he leaves the dungeon of dark desire and ultimately becomes "lost in your love; I am found."

While some of these messages seem a bit heavy-handed, they really seem less so in the context of the remarkably pleasant music and the extraordinary arrangements. John Mallory and Chris Donohue display a deft production hand, exhibiting a strong sense of what makes a song work well. Further, Scott Murray's innate intelligence makes the lyrics work on levels far beyond the obvious "Love God" preaching.

Here is a man who has been many places, seen special things, and has the talent to translate those experiences into well-fashioned songs. Contrary to its title, Stutter is a smooth, confident debut of superbly executed lush and mellow sounds from a talented singer/songwriter who comes home from traveling the world and, in the studio, delivers the musical goods.

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Jonathan Kuss & The Corporation
Segue


(Not Cool Records)

Release Date: July 15, 2004

www.notcoolrecords.com

Segue, the sophomore release from Rockford, Illinois' own Jonathan Kuss & The Corporation, serves up a dozen songs that defy easy categorization yet remain more than worth a listen. There's a loose and dirty bar-band feel to much of the album's music, a casual nonchalance that lends itself well to the emotional songs and voice of Mr. Kuss. He's a cross between Jakob Dylan (Wallflowers) and Adam Duritz (Counting Crows), following a sort of amplified rootsy folk-rock muse with a tight backing band that often veers into Southern rock territory.

After leaving the band Silt, Kuss recorded a solo EP with several studio session players who decided to stay on and become "The Corporation." They are: Nick Auriemmo on drums and percussion, Jeffro on bass, Jim Westin Jr. on keys and a guest spot from Mark Dimonica on sitar. Kuss, a former art student from Illinois State University, handles the vocals and guitars.

The band works well as a unit, and Jimmy "the" Johnson (Cheap Trick, The Pimps) keeps the production intimate, as if the band is playing in front of you in some smoky room late at night. The first listen through you get a sense of rock competence; with repeated listens, subtle musical nuances reveal themselves. There's a lot here to digest if you have time to live with it for a while.

The CD opens with "Superficial," a decently rocking number, in which Mr. Kuss works his vocal magic, spitting out phrases with venom and spirit: "I chased it down with prozac and empathy / then I would soak them in the water that fell / I would step back and take a look at myself / I would hold on and wish you well while you lay there." It's suitably infectious, with likable harmonies and strength to its message.

"Where Everything Glitters" finds Kuss and The Corporation starting out in more of an acoustic folkie mode (almost Guster-like), then they kick it up a notch. This pleasant song is catchy too, and features some fine guitar fills, amid some semi-obscure lyrics. It's about wanting to be someone famous and wanting to take "his people" along for the ride.

Kuss and company hit Counting Crows-realm with the song "Revolution, Mother!" It's an intriguing upbeat number, but instead of Mr. Jones we get Mrs. Abigale. Still, the commendable enthusiasm encourages you to get in line and join up with this revolution.

We get a similar musical feel to the drug-story behind "Ten Scrillas." I'm not sure these are lyrics worthy of musical accompaniment, but the song sounds decent enough.

"Visible From The Moon" is more of a ballad, a spare arrangement that delves into some pretty descriptions of love and friendship, amidst emotive vocals. The drums are almost military at times, and there's a fine guitar lead to boot. "No Thanks" is another song where Kuss lets loose with extended guitar solos.

A standard upbeat rocker, "All My Horses" sounds good (and again, allows for some fine guitar), but sports lyrics that don't hold up to any close scrutiny. Sometimes Kuss gives you the feeling that he's carried off on a stream of consciousness (and it's best to just let him go there, rather than try to make sense of it all).

"One Hundred Years" almost attempts to take on some philosophical issues in a totally rudimentary way, but the upbeat song and enthusiasm recall The Plimsouls on this particular track, and that's a good thing.

"Beautiful Addiction" builds slowly into a nice song, but again, features some fairly inscrutable and disappointing lyrics. "Luck" expands the sound a bit with some organ additions and a reverb chamber for some vocals; "Cherry" takes the bar band song and lifts it into the psychedelic realm via the use of sitar (and I quite like the results).

The album closes with "Tribes," sort of a different sound for Kuss and the band. This five-minute tribal end piece starts slowly, and features feedback noise and backward loops. It's a much more modern sound, disjointed at times, but infused with energy and anger that eventually returns to more recognizable ground when the guitars kick in. I'm not sure if this song belongs with the others, but it's a powerful close to the music.

Jonathan Kuss and The Corporation are fun to listen to, and Segue offers up several good songs. While I'd argue there's plenty of room for future lyrical growth, this still offers a lot of good music (so long as you don't require profundity). Kuss has a winning voice and he and his band execute these songs in a way that has you feeling as though you're in a smoke-filled bar, hearing them live and thoroughly enjoying them. While not every song here is a winner (and there's some repetition to the overall sound), there's enough promise shown to warrant looking out for whatever *Segue* next segues into.

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Farrah
*Me Too*

(LoJinx Records)

U.K. Release Date: November 1, 2004

U.S.: Available as Import

www.farrah.co.uk

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, the new wave of British pop was a kind of musical renaissance, bringing to the fore a number of highly melodic, energetic performances from the likes of Squeeze, Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and others. Things were simpler then, the ties skinnier, dancing more a matter of jumping in place to the beat.

Now, in these far more complex times, there's a fond nostalgia for those sounds of yore (see Glenn Tilbrook in concert and count the Squeeze songs sung or note the recent reformation of Joe Jackson's original band lineup and subsequent global tour). While not likely to find much radio airplay, those old sweet sounds still sound pretty good all these years later.

Farrah is a novelty in that they choose to master and update that great era's sounds with new music that captures the charm and spirit of what came before. Their Moustache CD was chock full of historic harmonies in the service of old-fashioned bouncy and fun songs (crafted the right way, with middle bridges and such).

Now, several years later, they've got a follow-up album that's a tour-de-force. Me Too, completed in late summer of 2003 (and previously only available in Spain and Japan), finally has arrived in the U.K. courtesy of Lojinx Records. It features twelve new songs (and one more hidden track) that are every bit as good as you'd hope, and perhaps even better.

The sounds are a bit more diverse on this new collection, and the band has replaced Mike Walker with Aussie Michelle Margherita on bass and backing vocals. While there's greater range in the instrumentation and production values, singer/multi-instrumentalist Jez Ashurst continues to flex his songwriting muscles in ways that impress. Andy Campbell challenges Ashurst in the number of instruments covered (guitar, keyboards, vocals, etc.) and Mike Hopkins handles drums and percussion.

Farrah play with poise and panache, serving up clean power pop of the highest order. Their well-arranged infectious melodies feature smart (often wry) lyrics that skewer our world. These three-minute guitar pop jewels are executed with what seems to be effortless ease.

The CD opens with the ska-laced "Tongue Tied," the charming tale of a fan (er, stalker) who's never quite able to say what he wants to his star-love: "I've read every one of your interviews / I know you think your arms are fat / And you like cats and fine wines / Tongue tied / I want you / And you know I always will / Inside, so shy / If only you knew what a state I'm in." Jez delivers it in clear voice and offhand delivery, and the song itself makes you want to dance along.

Next up we get a tongue-in-cheek anthem for couch potatoes the world over with "Daytime TV." In this nifty short upbeat ditty, we are urged to reflect upon Jerry's thought for the day. It's great musical fun, regardless (and features a great rhythm section).

Fans of Squeeze will delight in hearing "He Gives An Inch," perhaps the best Squeeze song not written by Squeeze (eking a Jump, Little Children song from the top spot in that competition). This ultra-catchy chorus will have you singing along: "He gives an inch / she takes a mile / She's got him running round in circles / trying to catch the tale she's telling / He gives an inch / she takes a mile / She's got him wrapped around her finger now."

While we're on the topic of nostalgia, Farrah salutes one of their predecessors by covering Joe Jackson's classic "It's Different For Girls." Here Jez and Michelle provide a quiet and respectful version.

"The One That Got Away" covers more-standard territory, a man lamenting his options in the wake of a failed relationship: "I'll reinvent myself just like Madonna does / join and gym and lose the charity shop clothes / as soon as I can face tomorrow." Be sure to notice the theremin here (and yes, it's a real one).

Another bittersweet tale (and one that references a fairly obscure John Lennon quotation) is "This Is My Life." Time and compromise have turned his reality into something remote from his dreams and ideals: "This is my life / It's smaller than I thought somehow / This is my life / It didn't quite work out the way I planned." The chorus background harmonies make this into the kind of clever pop gem perfected by groups like The Rosenbergs.

What at first listen might seem a romantic ballad in "Hopelessly Devoted" (and that interpretation works well enough), is revealed to be otherwise when you consider that Jez Ashurst has written a love song to beer. Truly, he has - and it's sweet enough to make you plenty thirsty for more.

Perhaps my favorite song here (and it's a hard call to make) is "First And Last." This poignant song tells of a guy who holds on to the first woman who ever dumped him: "Everybody's got a cross to bear / Something that we carry from the past / They hammer in the nails and leave them there / You were my first, you were the last." It's an admirable rhyme scheme in a memorable song, just more proof that Jez Ashurst is a great songwriter.

"Half As Strong" is a little jazzy number, exploring the weariness of the world traveler reflecting back (with some guest trumpet courtesy of Jane Hattee). "Wake Up" starts out with a bare acoustic demo then "wakes up" into a full-fledged studio treatment. It's a noble sentiment, urging us to face the day and wake up to what we're missing.

"The Last Word" is another winning song, homage to one who loves the sound of his/her own voice. It's a little jazzier, a little more lounge-flavored, if you will, than most of what's here. Farrah are quite accomplished musicians, and you get a sense that they enjoy what they play immensely.

The pretty closer "High And Low" is a dulcet acoustic number, pondering life itself, the passage of time and friends, etc. For those willing to wait, there's a short hidden punk rocker about eight minutes into the final track, most likely entitled "Nigel's Got It Coming To Him." It's perhaps a nice answer track to XTC's "Making Plans For Nigel," though it's only a minute and a half.

Jez Ashurst is a talent to be reckoned with (and he does it all with only one lung). He and the band work hard - having been touring Japan, Spain and France on a regular basis - and now they're back in the studio working on new material for what I hope will be another fine album not too far down the road. In the face of regular adversity (record label bankruptcy, an exploding van, lawsuits from a chocolate manufacturer, a mistaken association with a trouser brand), Farrah still manages to come out ahead.

Me Too is the kind of album you rarely find these days - a pleasure to listen to from the opening track to its close. Farrah gives you that old-fashioned Brit-pop sound - clean, multi-layered production, great vocals and harmonies surrounded by fine high-octane guitar, keyboards, bass and drums. It truly is a ray of light-hearted fun and sunshine on what's usually a fairly dark current musical horizon. Treat yourself to the charming power pop insouciance that is *Me Too* - don't you deserve it?

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Edmund's Crown
Collected


(self-released)
Release Date: ?

www.edmundscrown.com

It's a fairly simple story. It's July of 1999, and two twenty-somethings are in a Mexican restaurant, bemoaning the current state of rock music. By meal's end, a pact was made to put together a band to solve this dilemma - and thus (give or take a few practice years to perfect a sound) Edmund's Crown was born. This Nashville-based trio released a 7-song EP in February, 2000, and then released a full-length eponymous effort sometime after. Collected is a compilation of the best songs from those two previous efforts, along with two new additional tracks. If smooth, modern guitar-driven power pop is your thing, this is as good as it gets - this CD is "all killer, no filler."

Greg Pope (guitars, lead vocals) has a knack for writing the kind of infectious hook-laden ear candy that goes down easily and lasts long after the disc has stopped spinning these three-to-four minute gems. Several of these songs already have made their way onto soundtracks of various television shows and it's no great surprise. *Collected* delivers a baker's dozen tracks that all seem very radio ready and polished.

Formerly a member of CCM band Eager, Pope has kept up his songwriting skills, and has joined forces with musical pal David Sprouse (drums & percussion) and former Eager fan Jeremy Richards (bass, backing vocals) to become Edmund's Crown.

The CD opens with the lovely "Made To Soar," a winning harmony-rich tale of two folks trying to follow their individual dreams (hers is to be an actress, his is to be a rock star) against the odds: "In this life, I can't be meant for this / yeah, there must be something more / to this life / I can't be meant for this / I know I was made to soar." They face adversity, but stick with it and ultimately triumph, never looking back.

"Complete Me" is another charmer, a fetching melody and lyrics all about how love can help one to win the rat race: "What I want, what I need I may never receive / what I'm trying to be I might never achieve / when I look at myself, I don't like what I see / but darling, how you complete me." Pope lets his guitar skills show to great advantage here.

One of my favorites here is the uber-catchy "New Day," a song that'll find its way into your brain inadvertently. With an omniscient narrator, we are given a brand new day in which to look at life a brand new way - this is power pop as the gods intended it.

Betrayal is the subject of "Back Door," another fetching melody that is well-arranged and tightly executed, asking the musical question: "Are you cheating our life away?" Miscommunication in a relationship (couched in pleasant guitar sounds and harmonies) is the key to "Until You See Me Go."
Sure the troubles of the lovelorn are typical fodder for pop/rock, but Edmund's Crown cover this ground so expertly, it becomes more than forgivable. Witness the perfection that is "Only One," wherein loneliness is treated to a sweetly infectious melody. Or give a listen to "I'm On, She's Off" for a great depiction of a problematic modern relationship wherein two busy folks can't seem to ever get it together except to say goodbye over and over again.

The fickle inequity of fame versus talent (there are many who have the talent who never see the fame) is the poignant subject matter of "Shining Stars," citing a host of the undiscovered whose stars are "much too far away to see." "What's On My Mind" speaks out for being outspoken: "If I can't say what's on my mind / what's the use of talking?"

There remain small hints of Greg Pope's past in Christian music here and there. In the song "Scapegoat" there's this: "who took a swing at your pride / gave you another reason to brush religion aside" and in the beautiful song "Your Way Mine" there's mention of turning the other cheek. These understated messages don't overpower the music; they remain subtle, barely noticeable.

Pope, Sprouse and Richards get a chance to rock out on the delightfully upbeat "Where You Find Love," an exuberant studio number that features a bit of live performance as well. The CD closes with "Higher Than Me," one of the prettiest modern songs you're likely to hear. This is further proof of the skills of this trio, though by this point in the disc, I don't expect there are many non-believers left.

The three young men who comprise Edmund's Crown are accomplished musicians who take great care to get the details right. When two of them met that fateful day in 1999 and discussed their disenchantment with modern music, they knew they could do better. They have.

Pope's songs are melodic and memorable, and the group presents them through arrangements that keep the music both fresh and accessible. In the end, the listener has only to sit back and succumb to the smoothness of the sounds, the harmonies, the musicianship, the nuances and hooks and insightful lyrics. All told, it's quite an achievement. Collected is a powerful and confident collection of classically pleasant pop/rock that seems instantly familiar and totally enjoyable.

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