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Eric Stevenson

Dead Horse Town – 1999 (Self-released)

Reviewed by John Lupton

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CDs by Eric Stevenson

This solo debut effort from Eric Stevenson, former lead singer for the Boston-area alt. country band Hank Crane is a little more solo than most. Stevenson not only wrote all 11 cuts, he does all the vocals and instrumentals as well. In the wrong hands, this can be a little more hubris and overdubbing than might be advisable. But Stevenson pulls it off reasonably well with an album varying moods and tempos throughout, while retaining pretty good production values along the way, from easygoing, country-rock crossover tunes like "Never Meant To Be" and "Any Other Way" to darker, more reflective fare like "Pauline" and "Somebody New."

Stevenson's lyrics show some intelligence and adeptness at imagery that seems to escape most of the modern "singer-songwriters," and the rockabilly feel of the arrangements is a nice match. The vocals are expressive and pleasantly on the rough-edged side, suggesting comparisons to the likes of John Mellencamp, Steve Forbert and - for those whose memories go back that far - one-time Guess Who lead singer Burton Cummings. All in all, a good-natured, easy-to-listen-to disc worth taking a chance on. (Box 8296, Bradford, MA 01835, 978-374-0060)