Bob Egan has made a name for himself as being the “man of all strings” for folks such as Wilco, Freakwater, Billy Bragg and dozens more. His subtle steel playing is often the bonding touch on a particular song, and that’s perhaps where the problem with this second solo release comes in. Egan is a master sideman, and an able songwriter (he’s no Dylan, but who is?), but as a bandleader, something doesn’t quite gel. The material here is likeable enough, and he has some rather talented friends helping out (Travis Good from The Sadies, and the vocal stylings of The Be Good Tanyas), but the songs generally lack the “umph” factor. Granted, the recording seems to have been done in a living room, and the whole record has a first take feel to it (to the point you hear people talking in the background of some cuts), but that adds more to the charm of the record than detracting from it. No, it’s just that the indefinable “something” that makes a good song great is missing. The music never seems to rise to a point of release, rather instead being contented to coast. This isn’t a bad record — hell, anytime you get to hear Egan play steel guitar is a good day — but it isn’t a great record either.
Bob Egan: http://www.bobegan.com/