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Far from My Angel

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Album Review

Rich McCulley is the type of musician who doesn't try to dress up his rock & roll with fancy tricks. He uses the basic guitar/bass/keyboards/drum rock combo setup as the foundation for his songs that deal with traditional themes of love and love lost. This might sound like McCulley treads on overly familiar musical territory, but he keeps the album fresh and engaging through his emotionally direct lyrics and his energetic sound. McCulley freely admits that Far from My Angel is a post-breakup album. However, instead of creating a disc simply filled with acrimony toward his ex-love, McCulley's songs reveal him more in the mourning stage. And this approach is one way that makes this disc all the more interesting. So while he does vent his anger here (particularly in the turbulent rocker "Hope You're Happy Now"), McCulley more frequently explores feelings of regret and remorse. There are several tunes that are rather apologetic in nature, from subdued numbers like "Forget Me" and "Happy Birthday Baby" to the wonderfully infectious, Matthew Sweet-ish "It's on Me." Other songs find McCulley striking a conciliatory (the bluesy "8 Years Ago Today") or conflicted (the title track) tone. He even exhibits moments of hopefulness, moving from the lyrically tentative but musically forceful "Stumbling to Start" midway through the album to the thoroughly cathartic and totally glorious rocker "I Am Free," which closes the album. The Los Angeles-based, Fresno-born McCulley possesses a slightly raspy California drawl that recalls Cracker/Camper Van Beethoven frontman David Lowery. This resemblance is particular apparent on the "three chords and a tune" rocker "This Ain't a Song" and the twangy "Follow Me Down"; however, McCulley's singing comes more from the heart than the often ironic Lowery does. While having your heart broken is not a desirable thing, McCulley has dealt with it by making a terrific set of music.

Far from My Angel, Rich McCulley
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