More than a decade ago, Cracker’s David Lowerey sang, “What the world needs now/ Is another folk singer/ Like I need a hole in my head.” The sentiment couldn’t ring any truer today. What we may be in store for, ladies and germs, is a second-wave invasion of Sufjan/Devendra tender-boy types who don’t have names as odd or make music nearly as accomplished.
Welcome to that Nick Drake/Leonard Cohen-influenced fold one Michael Talbott. Show him some love, ‘cuz bro is mopey as all hell. He starts Freeze-Die-Come to Life walking down “Winter Streets,” his light, ethereal voice barely registering above a whisper. Following that feel-good hit is “Gray Day,” on which Talbott rhymes “Nothing goes my way” with the title and then brings the pain home with “No sunshine.”
What’s truly disappointing is that, with all the good help around him, Talbott should’ve been able to create better music. Most of the Wolfkings are also members of the band the Court and Spark, whose Hearts has been one of the best releases this year. The Court and Spark’s lead singer, M.C. Taylor, helped Talbott produce the often meticulously muted sound of Freeze-Die-Come to Life. Other guests on the album include musicians who’ve played with the likes of Cass McCombs and Kelley Stoltz.
Leave it to that old reliable — the pedal steel — to salvage a few of Talbott’s tunes: “Goodnight” and “Angel of Light.” Come to think of it, is there an instance in recorded music history where the pedal steel doesn’t sound great? Where it doesn’t make the listener drift off into dreams of wide-open, big-skied country vistas?
Talbott hails from the Bay Area, but he could easily pass as British. He goes out with “All My Days Are So Cold” sounding very Badly Drawn Boy. If you’re thinking to yourself, “What the world doesn’t need now is another Badly Drawn Boy,” you’re getting the drift.