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Columbus and the Colossal Mistake: A Collection of Songs and Photographs

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Album Review

This disc's lengthy title, Columbus and the Colossal Mistake: A Collection of Songs and Photographs, speaks to Bob Delevante's two artistic interests. Since his last solo album, 1999's Porchlight, he has concentrated on his graphic arts and photography careers. And while the CD includes several atmospheric postcards of Delevante's photography, it also reveals that he hasn't lost his touch for creating twangy pop songs. The title track, with its "My best-laid plans seem to be my colossal mistakes" chorus, addresses a sense of success' elusiveness. It also might hold personal resonance to Delevante, whose mid-'90s alternative country duo with his brother Mike achieved critical but not popular success. Delevante's second tune, the terrific "Circle Round Me," reveals that he doesn't dwell in what-could-have-been bitterness. This jangle pop delight concerns a father's love for his energetic young daughter. In fact, the album displays an endearing feeling of personal contentment. Songs like the soaring, longing-filled "Flying Home To," the jaunty "The Things I Long to Hear," and the laid-back love ode "Close My Eyes" are all charming, genial numbers from a man at peace and in love. Even the "domestic blues" in "Paint My House" concern the very suburban need to paint a house. Not all of Delevante's numbers, however, are gentle songs of the heart and hearth. Two of the disc's better tunes display a harder edge. The Byrds/Creedence-influenced "Like a Meadowlark Blues" features a fierce Buddy Miller solo, and "Texarkana State of Mind" is a rocking Americana travelogue. Another traveling song, "Venice Is Sinking," takes a picturesque trip to that Italian city, but it holds darker undercurrents too. His warning — "Beware all you sentimental fools trying to dredge up the past" — cautions listeners about getting too nostalgic. Similarly, Delevante includes enough exuberant moments on this record to avoid getting stuck in tasteful but colorless adult pop mode. On his bonus tracks, he loosens up even more, to mixed results. The front-porch rendition of the Ramones' "Blitzkrieg Bop" winds up taking some entertaining, unexpected musical twists. While the jawharp mix of "Texarkana" also has some interesting musical exploration, it's too drenched in jawharp. Still, the disc marks a very welcome return for Delevante.

Columbus and the Colossal Mistake: A Collection of Songs and Photographs, Bob Delevante
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