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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Brian Charles Tischleder

Momma Told Me So

Review by Gary Hill

I think this set does the best when it gets more energized, and less reflective. The mix of roots sounds seems to function best when it rocks more. There are a couple tunes here that really miss the mark as far as I'm concerned. Most of the stuff, though, works pretty well, but probably better one track at a time because it can get a bit samey. I have to admit, though, that I'm not the best audience for this as the vocals sound a lot like Bruce Springsteen, and I'm part of the minority of people who don't like him at all. If you are a Springsteen fan, though, you'll probably feel right at home in a lot of ways.

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Track by Track Review
Momma Told Me So
A slow moving acoustic guitar mode opens this thing. As the vocals join it takes on aspects of country, but also things that call to mind Bruce Springsteen and Tom Waits. Horns and backing vocals bring hints of soul music later. There is a jazzy element at play here, too.
Cold Night Air
This starts with a fuller arrangement than the last one did. It drops back for the vocals, bringing more of that Springsteen meets Waits element. This has a real singer songwriter vibe to it.
There is a lot of gospel built into this number. Piano is the main element of much of the musical arrangement here. This is slow moving and melancholy.
I Found You
More of a folk-based number, this has a roots music vibe to it. It doesn't work as well as some of the rest to my ears. Still, it has its charms.
Dog on a Chain
There is a folk music meets punk vibe to this thing. It's more message over music in a lot of ways, though. If there's a song that should have been left off, it was this one. It seems more of a tribal chant than a piece of music.
In Your City
Piano brings this into being. The vocals come in with a slow delivery. The cut has a stripped back balladic approach. Other instruments are added to the mix further down the road, but the piano remains the primary instrumental focus throughout.
South Dakota
The first portion of this cut has the same kind of mellow mode we've heard quite a bit on the set. It turns to some upbeat, more pop music based stuff further down the road, though. That section is one of the most effective passages of the whole set. While that section returns several times, it is contrasted with a return to the mellower modes as the number continues.
Walking on a Wire
Another based mostly on piano and voice, this is a good tune, but the formula is beginning to wear a bit thin.
Carnival Song
Playful and theatrical, there is a lot of jazz in the mix here. It has one of the most complex arrangements. It also brings some definite variety to the proceedings. It's one of the highlights of the set.
Lost Highway
There is some country in the mix here, but overall this is more of a powered up rocker that works pretty well. It's another standout tune, at least in this part. It does have a lot of that Springsteen thing built into it. The cut is an extensive one. Around the five-minute mark it drops to a mellow section for some mostly spoken, almost Elvis Presley like vocals. This cut loses a lot of the magic of the piece, but does bring variety. It goes on way too long, though. It includes lists of names, I'm assuming of people who have died. Honestly, I think the set would have been better served (if this had to be included) if it were a separate track somewhere in the middle of the album. Closing with the song proper would have made for a strong ending. With the second half attached, though, it's like going out with one of the weakest things here.
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