Open Season: Featuring the Songs of Paul Westerberg

Open Season: Featuring the Songs of Paul Westerberg

(Lost Highway)

First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2006, Volume 13, #10

Written by John Metzger

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The material on Open Season: Featuring the Songs of Paul Westerberg may have been used to score an animated feature film, but when divested of their computer-generated imagery, all of the songs hold up remarkably well. Aside from the Talking Heads' hit Wild Wild Life and Deathray’s Ramones-ish I Wanna Lose Control (Uh Oh), the rest of the 12-track outing was penned by Westerberg, who tones down his typically anguished clatter in order to discover a sound that is more widely accessible. Although there’s nothing offensive contained on the set, the collection undeniably is geared more toward adults than kids. It doesn’t matter whether he’s is singing about the happy-go-lucky lives of woodland critters or a new love affair, the joyous pop-oriented refrains of Meet Me in the Meadow and Any Better Than This work with either interpretation. Elsewhere, however, there’s a bittersweet core to songs such as Good Day and I Belong. The former, of course, originally was written as an elegy for former Replacements guitarist Bob Stinson, who passed away 11 years ago at the age of 35, while the latter tune’s tale of isolated existence appears twice, first as a sad-eyed, Beatles-meets-David Bowie piano ballad by Westerberg and, later, in a pensive, symphonic rendition by Pete Yorn. Even the somewhat goofy Right to Arm Bears, which continues the reunion of Westerberg with former ’Mats bassist Tommy Stinson, packs a punch as well as a message. Granted, there’s nothing on the soundtrack to Open Season that ranks among Paul Westerberg’s best recordings, but it does extend his prolificness of late, during which he’s increasingly found ways of balancing his maturation as a songwriter with the reckless fun of his youth. starstarstar

Open Season: Featuring the Songs of Paul Westerberg is
available from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!

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Ratings

1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!

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Copyright © 2006 The Music Box