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Bill McGarvey

Tell Your Mother – 2003 (Thievery)

Reviewed by Robert Wooldridge

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CDs by Bill McGarvey

Bill McGarvey's debut is rootsy, but the roots are firmly planted in sixties pop. The title track is particularly reminiscent of Harry Nilsson, and like much of Nilsson's work, there is a darkness beneath the surface in McGarvey's lyrics.

"5 O'Clock Hero" deals with the alienation between a man and his wife ("Dad in his corner living room seat/Mom says, 'OK, spell f-a-i-l-u-r-e for me"). "Do It All Yourself," which features a guitar riff that recalls George Harrison's early Beatles' work, similary addresses disfunctionality ("Nobody walked you home from school/ So you found you were alone and learned too soon/Innocent and cruel takes you a long way down").

The humorous "Standing Next To Gloria Steinem" tells of a potential subway romance that becomes complicated when the singer notices who is near the object of his desire ("You, me and Gloria we make quite an item/You build the walls and I promise to climb them").

There's no real twang here but the acoustic "Hang On," the Orbisonesque "I Hear Voices" and the guitar lead in "Outside the Walls" demonstrate a country influence. Though McGarvey may have more in common with Nilsson than Haggard this is a thouroughly enjoyable effort. (Good Thief Music, Box 764, Hoboken, NJ 07030, 201-659-6545)