Mama TevatronAlbum |
Cult Canadian changes musical directions for the better.
Six albums into his career, it's becoming clear that Canadian singer-songwriter John Southworth is one of those guys who adopts a new sound for each record, simply because he's clever and talented enough to explore different musical and emotional moods without losing sight of himself as an artist. So where 2007's The Pillowmaker was a mostly acoustic album filled with brief, childlike songs of wonder and whimsy, the decidedly darker Mama Tevatron ditches guitars entirely in favor of vintage electric keyboards and a prominent rhythm section. It's Southworth's most energetic album in ages, featuring some of his most immediate songs (notably the splendid singles "First of May" and "I Get It Now") since his debut Mars, Pennsylvania, the great lost pop album of the 1990s. Southworth's singular lyrical stance continues unabated -- "The Champagne Lady" tells the true story of the time Lawrence Welk fired one of his singers live on the air before moving into a surreal meditation on Native American leader Black Elk -- and his pleasantly distinctive voice (reminiscent of Harry Nilsson and the young Cat Stevens) sounds as unaffected and youthful as ever. What could have been an experimental digression a la 2000's bluegrass EP Rose Milk Appalachia is among Southworth's strongest albums.