Ex-Moldy Peach Adam Green has it half-right on his third solo album, Gemstones. Of the fifteen pebbles here, not a one rolls past the three-minute mark. But to call any of them gems would be to blaspheme other songwriters (Ron Sexsmith, Tom Petty, Paul McCartney) whose gifts for penning perfect little pop tunes result in far more sincerity and self-respect.
Take “Crackhouse Blues” for example. Please, take it. Green’s opening lines include the words “pussy” and “Jordache jeans,” five syllables that conjure trailer-park imagery reserved exclusively for Joe Dirt sequels. “Carolina” is a deceptive tribute about a girl from Texas with breasts that “taste like breakfast,” and whose hand is on “the cock-sock/ Filled with white tears/ From the thrift store.” Additional penis jokes come (no pun intended) in “Choke on a Cock,” a title that says it all, then some and a little more.
Green opts to hang these awkward lines on a country-tinged clothesline of electronic piano, guitar and shuffle-step drums. Laced up with his baritone vocals, he resembles something out of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive: a rhinestone cowboy from hell.
You’ll laugh a couple times. You may get wrapped up in the occasional sweet melody. You may even respect Green’s conviction as a songwriter. But enjoying Gemstones is like eating a box of crappy chocolates: you’ve got to overlook more pieces than you consume.