(He & He)
First Appeared in The Music Box, March 2008, Volume 15, #3
Written by John Metzger
Tue March 4, 2008, 06:30 AM CST
On paper, the selection of T Bone Burnett to produce the BoDeansí latest album Still is as perfect as can be. The band long has twisted its bubbly, Beatle-esque melodies into heartland-driven folk-rock, and as Burnettís terrific, two-disc retrospective Twenty Twenty: The Essential T Bone Burnett made clear, he has more than a passing fondness for the Liverpudlian quartet. By the same token, the BoDeansí output typically has sounded too crisp, clean, and polished for its own good. Therefore, Burnettís penchant for applying gritty, ambient textures ought to be the perfect antidote for what has been ailing the group. After all, Burnett succeeded last year in striking the perfect balance between the angelic persona of Alison Krauss and the ominous presence of Robert Plant on the superlative Raising Sand.
For what itís worth, Still begins in a thrilling fashion, bearing the kind of aurally engaging fruit that a collaboration between Burnett and the BoDeans ought to yield. The music that surrounds Pretty Ghost, the albumís opening cut, is well suited for the songís lyrics. Framed by writhing electric guitars and rolling percussion, the BoDeansí vocals drift ethereally through the fray. Itís precisely the sort of atmospheric arrangement that Burnett increasingly has excelled at creating, and in scuffing up the BoDeansí sound, he undeniably has helped the band to carry its material onto an exciting, new plane of existence.
Unfortunately, although the rest of Still is quite solid, it also doesnít fare nearly as well as it should. The BoDeansí harmonies are, of course, as sublime as they always have been, and the groupís knack at crafting immediately engaging melodies remains intact. In addition, there is an infusion of energy permeating the disc ó from the lead guitar lines that wind through Round Here Somewhere to the driving, garage-blues propulsion of Lucille ó that saves the set from falling prey to the same tedious mediocrity that dogged Resolution.
Nevertheless, for all of the moments when it appears as if the ideas proffered by Burnett and the BoDeans will coalesce, the two parties never quite get to or remain on the same page. Instead, they glide past each other, just missing the mark. In the end, Still is an enjoyable affair, one that at least demonstrates that, after nearly 25 years together, the BoDeansí interest in pushing its music forward hasnít waned. Considering the amount of talent that was in the recording studio, however, the album also canít help but to feel like a disappointment.
Still is available from
Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2008 The Music Box