Music You Don't Know You Like Yet
2008-03-18Tim O’Brien writes, “My songs mostly start with me and an instrument, and I perform that way about half the time. So last summer I loaded all my hillbilly apparatus—guitars, mandolins, banjos, etc.—into Gary Paczosa’s garage and played this batch of songs until I was finished.” O’Brien can make you think you’re listening to a band when he’s picking at his guitar strings or playing the fiddle. In Chameleon, he sings about ordinary life, relationships, and politics. “Megna’s” is a story about man who sells produce and is an exercise in exploring the ordinary through art. (A track for O’Brien fans but probably not for radio.) “The Only Way to Never Hurt” is lyrically one of the better songs on the album. O’Brien picks up the fiddle for “Phantom Phone Call” and quietly plays during “Safe in Your Arms” after a minute-long a cappella opening. He delves into politics in “When in Rome,” “World of Trouble,” and “This World Was Made for Everyone.” The latter track is a tongue-in-cheek look at America’s history, manifest destiny, and an ongoing sense of entitlement. But O’Brien’s sings, “If we follow our hearts, we can fix up this world.” A few songs seem to be crafted especially for entertaining live shows, like “Get Out There and Dance” and a perfect show-ender, “Nothing to Say (That Hasn’t Been Said).” The rest of the songs on this disc are just as noteworthy. --MLG
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