Stories of a Stranger
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2005, Volume 12, #11
Written by T.J. Simon
It appears that O.A.R. (Of a Revolution) isnít satisfied with its underground, do-it-yourself success. Indeed, the band populated its recent, Jerry Harrison-produced studio release Stories of a Stranger with ordinary, mid-tempo alt-rock tunes in the tradition of Matchbox Twenty and Third Eye Blind. Not all of its forays into the mainstream are disastrous ó Heard the World and Love and Memories are the best of the bunch ó but they also donít sound much like the jam-filled, suburban reggae that O.A.R. fans have come to expect. The old O.A.R. doesnít appear until Wonderful Day, the albumís third track, wherein things get back to normal for a blessed moment, thanks to an island groove and Jerry DePizzoís awesome saxophone playing.
The rest of Stories of a Stranger is largely hit-or-miss: Dakota, Daylight the Dog, The Stranger, and Nasim Joon are all feeble attempts at generating some crossover appeal that ultimately finds O.A.R. abandoning its roots. Alternatively, One Shot and Lay Down are reggae-tinged pop numbers that are every bit as good as the bandís historical output. The albumís embarrassing low point, however, is unquestionably Program Director, a pandering, faux-reggae abomination that takes the ultra-lame lyrical tact of asking listeners to call their local radio station and request that they play O.A.R. This kind of thing should be relegated to the deep recesses of a fan website rather than manifested within the framework of an actual song.
The bottom line is that Stories of a Stranger contains a handful of decent numbers that will appeal to O.A.R.ís loyal fan base, but most of the record is a wholesale abandonment of everything that made this band a homespun success. Failing to dance with the one who brought you this far is a dangerous game. Only time will tell if O.A.R.ís gamble proves to be a savvy business move. Donít bet on it. Ĺ
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box