John Guliak

7 Stories & 13 Songs

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John Guliak likes things the old-fashioned way, especially judging by the backwoods, mountain-ish approach on the pleasing title track. Bringing to mind the Handsome Family with his deep timbre, Guliak and his cohorts weave a dark and catchy melody that is part Tom Waits and part Johnny Cash. The song takes a detour à la "Layla" by Derek and the Dominos with a somewhat psychedelic vibe before the song veers back into its traditional pattern and Guliak name-drops Waits. Another weary track is the rudimentary country-tinged "Feathers for a Fool," a swaying sort of song that sounds like it was created in the late '50s on Nashville's Music Row. Helping him out is a fine crop of musicians, including Carolyn Mark adding harmonies on the jazzier "High," a number that glides along easily. Guliak isn't all gloom and doom, particularly given the uptempo, breezy, pop-oriented "The Little Ease," which could pass for a song Toby Keith might attempt. Fans of Knife in the Water would probably lap up "Dive," with its slow, Americana flavor. He tends to drop the ball, though, with the rather bland train-rolling flow of "Windigo." "Easy to Fail" picks things up, but again Guliak relies on a well-worn, mediocre formula to deliver the song. Thankfully, his cover of Gary Anderson's "Big Orange Root" is a truly great track, with all the intangibles and gloomy nuances present. And he also outdoes himself on the midtempo adult contemporary folk of "Shaky Nancy."The highlight might be "Great Western," which hits the ideal balance between alt-country and folk, ambling along without any notion of picking up the pace. Ending with the Hank Williams-like "Wreck on the Highway," the album is a consistent slice of Americana and traditional country-cum-folk.

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