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Little Brown Book

Rees Shad

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Album Review

For his third album, Rees Shad has borrowed an idea from Lyle Lovett's I Love Everybody and gone back to his notebook to resurrect early songs never before recorded. He explains this on the lead-off title track, asking the listener's opinion and declaring, "Expression is a chance I take." He also provides "a little preamble before each cut" in the CD booklet, which turns out to be very useful, since it's not always easy to figure out what his songs are about just by listening to them. For example, "All Fall Down" is about "a man more in love with his gun than with his humanity"; listeners might have guessed it was a description of an obsessive homosexual relationship. And "Sigh Away" concerns "an old friend" who needed to "clean up his act and get off the horse he was riding" (even the preambles are a little indirect); to us, it's a put-down in the style of Bob Dylan. If expression is the chance Shad takes, he probably should be a little more concerned about making himself clear. It's a classic fault of the amateur writer: since he knows what he means, he assumes everybody else will, even if he has expressed himself in abstract, cliché-ridden language instead of speaking plainly. Actually, these songs are far more impressive as performances than as compositions. There's nothing new in the folk-rock and rock styles of the music, but Shad sings persuasively, and the tight arrangements are played with real drive. He's a rocker who longs for the songwriting stature of a folkie, but at least on this collection of reconstituted juvenilia, his writing lacks the commitment of his performing. Even on "Man of the Sea," which concerns this adopted son's search for his birth parents, he doesn't dig deep enough, and a subject with a potential for broad appeal is wasted; you can tell by the way he sings that it matters a lot to him, but it isn't written well enough to matter much to you.


Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '90s

Singer/songwriter Rees Shad debuted in 1996 with Anderson, Ohio. The Riggley Road Stories, a combination CD/book...
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Little Brown Book, Rees Shad
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