A review for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
By Dave Nachmanoff
From the opening dobro notes of the first song, "Cry for the Working Man," this self-titled debut CD offers a friendly, homey combination of country, folk and pop. Rob Lytle, who is a native of Ohio, is refreshingly straightforward and likable. Lytle is currently making his way in the highly competitive Massachusetts folk scene. This collection of songs is varied in emotion, from the wistful melancholy of "She Was Married," (a touching description of an ex-girlfriend's wedding), to the bouncy exuberance of "Bailey Road" (a wry look at the process of settling down into comfortable domesticity). There is a well-balanced mix of ballads, jazzy tunes and up tempo rockers.
Lytle's voice is pleasant, and his vocal phrasing is effective, especially on songs such as "I Know You." The album is cleanly produced and features some major talents of the New England folk scene on backing vocals, including Ellis Paul and Dar Williams. Co-producer Geoff Bartley plays tasteful guitar throughout, and Danny Shapira's keyboard work adds nice color to the sound.
One of Lytle's talents is economy the of lyrics. Few of the songs are longer than three verses, yet in each he is able to tell a story, evoke an emotion, or make a political point without preaching (no mean feat). If you like country that is not over-commercialized and folk that is unpretentious and heartfelt, chances are you will like these songs.
The real strength of this CD, however, is its melodies. After listening just once or twice, I found that I couldn't get some of the tunes out of my head. With just ten songs, Lytle follows the show-biz saying "Always leave 'em wanting more." Let's hope that Rob gives us another collection of fine songs sometime soon.
[David Nachmanoff is a singer/songwriter from Davis, CA]