First Appeared at The Music Box, December 2002, Volume 9, #12
Written by John Metzger
Is it better to pen songs full of tantalizing pop hooks or keenly literate lyrics? On his debut for the recently revived Tomato Records, Tom Burris aims to strike a balance between the two sides of the debate. This, of course, isnít all that surprising, given Burris began his adult life teaching creative writing before trying his hand as a novelist and finally settling on a career as a songwriter and musician. Indeed, several of the tracks on For Sale ó such as The Fisherman, I, and The Voice of Gideon ó play like aural movies based on his short stories.
The problem with For Sale is that the music that Burris crafted around his words is fairly straightforward and never surprising. Itís not bad, per se, it just floats by in a pedestrian blend of The Smiths, General Public, and The Smithereens. As a result, Burris, more often than not, sounds like an author trying to be a musician rather than vice versa. In other words, no matter how ambitious the lyrics, the song with the most memorable melody always wins the game, and Burris is going to have to work a little bit harder than he does on For Sale if he wants to hold his audienceís attention.
For Sale is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2002 The Music Box