A mediocre aggregate of New Age (the liner photos) and the tepid come together to form what the promo lit informs us is "modern rock". Lou Barlow is True Nature, and he's gathered Tony Levin (King Crimson) on bass, Aaron Comess (Spin Doctors) on percussion and production, and Gerry Leonard (Bowie sessioneer) on second guitar, in the process brewing up a U2 / Bruce Springsteen / alt-rock sound that's just too median to work up very much enthusiasm over. The first couple cuts are recorded in arena-matic sound, so there's little to fault in the pure mechanics, but that's precisely the problem: everything's so glossy that an authentic emotion can't adhere to it.
It's fairly obvious what the guy's trying to do, which comes through in My Freedom Lies Behind Me, where, as against the first two tracks, Barlow ceases trying to perpetually erect a wall of sound and actually crafts a tune with peaks and valleys without crowding the vocals or choking off the bass lines. It isn't a great song but it's good and sounds genuine, not cellophanish. Unfortunately, Woman seems to be an attempt to carry it on balladically and ends up undecided, as does Too Close to See Who We Are with it's naked Bono / Edge influences.
Barlow's problem, I suspect, is that he needs to stop listening to cut-outs like Springsteen or the easier elements of U2's ouevre and switch to something like Nuclear Valdez, perhaps Cactus World News, to a group that codifies the direction he hasn't yet grasped, or at least several elements of it. The cat has all the staples, he just hasn't figured out how to craft them. Shut the friggin' radio off, I say.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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