March 23, 2005

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Mike Younger, Every Stone You Throw
Bare Bones Productions, 2006

Second bible-belt-indie release from Younger, whose songwriting and asthmatic croon have gotten better with experience. Some slight projection of jaded ennui via government-issue drawling is the one thing standing between this and outright AOR (think Fleetwood Mac’s or Rod Stewart’s most cowpoking moments), but a barely passing 65 grade from Pitchfork is less the goal here than is wide blue-collar acceptance. That’s a good thing, considering that Younger walks the heartland walk lyrically and musically, doing dead-on nicks of John Cougar (“Banished”), Bob Seger (“Dandelion”) and a close-cigar of Van Morrison (“Killin’ Time”). Most artists of this stripe would be content to call it a day right around there, but Younger views his obligations through a far less formulaic prism, pulling off — quite well — Arlo Guthrie doing Dylan at outro track “Something to Believe.” Upbeat, very well written and timed perfectly for the hot months, it’s a backyard barbecue record that appears on its surface to be completely devoid of gimmickry. A-

Eric W. Saeger


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