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Fred Eaglesmith

Dusty – 2004 (Self-released)

Reviewed by Rick Teverbaugh

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CDs by Fred Eaglesmith

Even after several times through this disc, a vocal comparison to a "Nebraska"-style Bruce Springsteen is inevitable. Not that Fred Eaglesmith hasn't always had similarities with the New Jersey rock icon, but when he slows down, as he does most of the time here, the similarity grows stronger.

But what makes this disc different from anything Springsteen or really anybody else has put out over the past 10 years are the obvious nods toward cheesy instrumental backing. Whether it is meant to compliment the music or act as a counterpoint still isn't clear. Whether it is a nod to the fact that this is an independent release or a simple coincidence is also uncertain.

There is no mistaking that the organ touches and programmed percussion lend a distinctive feel to the songs that remains consistent throughout. Eaglesmith is a thoughtful and careful writer who finds the use of metaphors an easy and effective ways to make points. He is maturing into one of the more enigmatic and challenging figures in the singer/songwriter field.