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Brian Waldschlager

Down There – 2000 (Disgraceland)

Reviewed by Nick A. Zaino III

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CDs by Brian Waldschlager

Brian Waldschlager's debut is a mixed bag of inspired pop, gut-rattling experiments and ill-advised failures. But the good far outweighs the bad. The disc starts with a twangy, clich+-ridden stomper, "Take A Ride." There's some fire behind it, but it feels empty. The title track features some nice acoustic slide work and some crunchy Stones guitar, but it's not enough to hold up a weak song. Where this album really starts to catch is on the Tom Petty-influenced pop of "Mountain Girl" and "Touch of a Dove," which sounds great with Dolly Parton's backing vocals. They're the kind of tunes you turn up and sing along with at the top of your lungs when you're alone in the car.

Waldshlager also proves he's capable of a light touch and a heavy muddy undertow. His "Red Clay and Limestone" is a beautiful country ballad. He moves from tortured folk to howling blues on "Last Ditch Effort" and "Third World Waltz," showing a little Tom Waits influence with distorted vocals and twisted lyrics. When he gives himself room to play, he sounds great.