First Appeared at The Music Box, May 2004, Volume 11, #5
Written by John Metzger
Steve Poltz is, perhaps, most often recognized as the co-writer of Jewelís mega-hit You Were Meant for Me, although with the release of his second solo outing Chinese Vacation, heís almost certain to tack another piece of trivia onto his name ó this time, gaining notoriety as the guy who dared to turn TLCís cloying urban soul single Waterfalls into a quirky folk-rap tune. However, if neither of these achievements seems particularly appealing, take heed. They arenít truly reliable representations of the Steve Poltz sound. Although heís quite good at cranking out confessionals about love affairs that have gone astray, his lyrics tend to be a tad bit more complex than an association with Jewel would lead one to believe. And when it suits his storyline, heís not afraid to apply his rather absurdly irreverent wit, which he does rather effectively on the bouncy Robbie Fulks-ish title track from his new album. Even so, the song cycle, which was recorded in the wake of 9/11 and in the aftermath of a close friendís brutal murder, is considerably more refined and focused than his debut One Left Shoe.
Nevertheless, itís in crafting infectious melodies that Poltzís true strength lies, and Chinese Vacation is stuffed full of absorbingly heartfelt pop songs sung in typical troubadour fashion. Given his newfound serious side, comparisons to Wilcoís Jeff Tweedy are warranted, particularly on the superb opening trilogy Friendly Fire, California, and You Remind Me on which his similarly craggy vocals carry a slight country-twang as well as the exhaustion of a morning-after haze brought about by a long night of smoking cigarettes and drinking beer. While itís true that the album significantly falls apart in its latter third, it sufficiently prevails as the type of engrossing effort that just might allow Poltz to win over a wider audience on his own accord.
Of Further Interest...
Chinese Vacation 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 © 2004 The Music Box