That These Things Could Be Ours
Robert Skoro is a Minnesota native who began his career performing with acclaimed singer/songwriter, and fellow Minnesotan, Mason Jennings. His sophomore solo release, and first for Yep Roc, finds Skoro getting some valuable production assistance from Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine). This is a very pleasant sounding record. Unfortunately, though, impeccably tasteful arrangements and production bells and whistles aren’t enough to rescue these lackluster songs.
Opener “All the Angles” is a decent acoustic rocker with interesting sudden shifts in tempo and style. Skoro showcases a Nick Drake influence on tunes like “Before the Sun” (the best vocal showcase here) and the marimba-tinged “Old Friend.” Wurlitzer and melodica weave their way through the pretty “Hungry Ghost.” Some good guitar work highlights “Morning.” And the set concludes with the refreshingly more up-tempo “The Package.”
But a number of songs here, including “China,” “Boo Hoo” and “I Was Blonde At Age Four,” meander aimlessly. And “Influence” is both ponderous and pretentious, with Skoro singing lines like “drunk on the influence of imagery.” It doesn’t help that Skoro has an unremarkable, overly earnest voice which does little to help convey these rather bland, characterless songs.
Skoro is obviously a talented guy who has surrounded himself with other talented people to create this musical stew. There are just too many missing ingredients on That These Things Could Be Ours.