Souvenirs (Little Dog, 1996)
Reviewed by Joel Bernstein
File "Souvenirs" under "alternative country lite." Joss is a member of Dwight Yoakam's band, and the album is produced by Yoakam's producer, Pete Anderson. But don't be expecting anything like a Yoakam album. Joss is no songwriter, (he penned one song), but the songs are well-chosen, written by known figures like Jim Lauderdale, Tom Russell and Kostas and more obscure names. The problem is with Joss's singing. He sounds like a guy who could have made a good living doing those "soundalike" cover versions of hits for cheapie labels. Joss is able to sing pleasantly in a variety of styles, but his voice has no real character and is a bit weak in the emotion-conveying department. A particular offender is "Home Before Dark," which is sterile compared to Tom Russell's original version. The best track is Lauderdale's "Doin' Time in Bakersfield," an unabashed homage to Merle Haggard's "I'm A Lonesome Fugitive." Good songs, tasteful production, pleasant singing - there's nothing here to actually dislike. Just don't expect a life-changing experience.