May 7, 2006

Album Review: Super XX Man

Scott Garred, Super XX Man, writes and plays straightforward, melodic music. Exemplifying Thoreau’s simplify, simplify, simplify mantra, Garred and his bandmates play what needs playing and leave the rest behind. With an acoustic guitar, accordion, flute, harmonica and unabashed sincerity, their new album, X, lifts the spirit and, on occassion, uses humor to remind us of the joy music and life can bring.

A few of the articles I’ve read about Garred compare him to Willie Nelson, one of my favorite artists (and someone I saw in concert last month). While X’s sound doesn’t remind me of Willie, I do understand the comparison. The simplicity and honesty that encompass Garred’s music reminds me of classic Willie Nelson albums like Red Headed Stranger. Maybe this is one the Nelson albums Garred references in A Garage Apartment, the fourth track on X.

X opens with Collecting Rocks, a graceful song with the accompanying vocals of Ali Wesly, whose voice is warm and so so sweet. The album then transitions from a song about love to a song about falling out of love. The vocals on Up Up Up remind me of a somber Tom Petty, and the melancholy is somehow reassuring.

Usual Way is an odd, endearing track. With an accordion and one goofy banjo scat, the song ambles along and then segues into lyrics I didn’t see coming: Don’t doubt my faith. Don’t doubt my Savior, my Grace. Don’t doubt my outcome. Don’t doubt my outlook. Don’t doubt my place in this life. And then the accordion kicks back in and the track wraps.

A Garage Apartment makes me sing a telephone number. I’m not sure how it does it, but it does. 458-4492 458-4492 458-4492… And then there’s a song about bottle caps. It might sound weird, but, just like the rest of the album, it works.

Moving forward on the record, Grace is haunting and slightly-discordant; Coulee City is upbeat, with a country-music feel; and Stroll On Through New Orleans has a chorus that makes me sing along: bum bum, bum-bum, bum bum, bum-bum

See You In The Evening closes the album with brushed drums, Ali Wesly’s vocals, acoustic guitar, harmonica and what I think is a xylophone. Blended together like a good fruit smoothie, all of these components end the record with harmonizing perfection.

For more information about this album and Super XX Man, visit Hush Records and MySpace.

Super XX Man | Collecting Rocks [MP3]
Super XX Man | I Can't Figure Out These Bottle Caps [MP3]