Graham Colton Band

Graham Colton Band

Graham Colton Band

Drive

Universal Motown

The Dallas-based Graham Colton Band has been a hard-touring act the last couple of years, sharing bills with Counting Crows, Dave Matthews Band and John Mayer. While I appreciate their strong work ethic, I have to tell you this record is a slick, soulless and generic slab of corporate product. And Colton has that same obnoxious sneering vocal attack of a million suburban white boy bands that made their name in the ’90s. That decade has never sounded as far away as it does on Drive.

The big mystery is what producer Brendan O’Brien, who has worked with Pearl Jam and Bruce Springsteen, saw in these guys. They’re certainly lucky to have him, and his over the top approach certainly helps gloss over some of the band’s shortcomings. The acoustic number “Killing Me,” in particular, is a string-laden showstopper. And “South” nearly gets the balance right with acoustic verses, a swirling bridge and crunchy choruses. “Sending You A Note,” however, is more transparent, as you see O’Brien and the band throwing everything at you to cover up the underlying dullness. And the nice harmonies and guitar work on “The World Tonight” are bludgeoned to death by drummer Jordan Elder’s overloud kit.

Unfortunately, Colton and company don’t have anything interesting to say, either musically or lyrically. “Don’t go away/Say you’ll stay/Until the morning light,” Colton sings on one Goo Goo Dolls-like cigarette lighter-waver. Speaking of cigarettes, “Cigarette” has a decent hook and sounds like it could be a huge hit, if it were, say, 1997.

Drive sounds most like an unwelcome blast from the past, almost wholly lacking in originality or personality. With all the inventive music being released in 2004, why would you bother with this dated-sounding dreck?

Gram Colton Band: www.grahamcoltonband.com • Universal Records: www.universalrecords.com

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