September 21, 2006

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Carbon Leaf, Love Loss Hope Repeat
Vangard Records, 2006

Brilliant lyrics notwithstanding, it takes imagination to envision Carbon Leafís slavishly crafted mall-indie (or underproduced AOR-pop, take your pick) making a mark outside of Nexium commercials. For a Jack Johnson-vs.-Quagmire cage match itís a little too perfect, and sometimes things are so painstakingly teed up that you wish Lucy would pull the ball away and make them fall on their kiesters, hard, but after 10 years of watching fans of Dave Matthews and Counting Crows find their seats during their warmup spots you sort of canít blame them for hedging all bets. Politely hooky (at times strikingly so) or not, by around the fourth song you find yourself wishing singer Barry Privett would take a break from his Steve Winwood aloofness and allow an Iím-all-that Radiohead riff to take over for four or five or 60 bars. Those interested enough to listen further will find ďA Girl and Her HorseĒ pandering to lowest-common-denominator undergrads. A few serious gems here, but it wouldíve been stronger as an EP. C+

ó Eric W. Saeger