Tommy Wallach “I Meant It to Be Sweet”
Today I take a detour from power pop into the single talent that is Brooklyn-based writer and musician Tommy Wallach. A pop troubadour with a gift for melody and nuanced style, not unlike a cross between Sondre Lerche and Rufus Wainwright. “Cold As Christ” is a bouncy tune that questions his courage, and his voice is just amazing here. “Misanthrope” and “Occam’s Razor” both pour out emotions, “Life is not as simple as a song” he sings to an audience looking for solutions.
Its not all gloomy though. Tommy gets pretty jazzy on “To Keep You Dancing” and “The Charade Of The Encore” adds a fiddle to the country-like ditty. The dramatic ballads dominate this album, but if you are looking for a lighter subject he has a FREE Decca EP that offers some great songs including a cover of Paul Simon’s “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” and the piano bar classic “Drunk.” Talent like this deserves to be heard.
The Sapwoods “Timekeeper”
The Sapwoods are an Iowa City band created by singer-songwriter Justin Swafford and guitarist David Suchan, with Miranda Peyton on keys, Brian Speer on bass and Derrick Cook on drums. Peaks and Valleys is an album with a diverse group of songs opening with the single “Relax, Be Real, Be Yourself,” a rocker that’s part Counting Crows, part Wilco. It then goes to a weak reggae beat for “Are You Lightning?” before adding guitar again on “Let Go.”
Swafford has good vocal skills, reminding me of Charles Jenkins (Ice Cream Hands) but sometimes it doesn’t fit the song, like on the disjointed “Drifters” or “Same Old Reeling.” The musicianship here is pretty good, “Serve You Right” and “Two Wounded Soldiers” are solid compositions and “The Offer” has a good chorus, but I wish more hooks were here. This sounds like a band clearly looking for an identity. The skill sets are there, but nothing grabbed me like that opening tune.