From the opening guitar riff of Return to Sender (not the Elvis song), it's evident that Ballad of the Tin Men, the debut from Oklahoman Doug Powell, is the work of a promising young tunesmith. Powell is a fetching melodist who, like his mentor Jules Shear, fills his tunes with smart lyrics which are always quite musical. He's at his best when dishing out pure pop/rock, as on "My Sweet Revolver," "Unmutual" and the record's best cut, "Return to Sender." On the other hand, a good portion of Tin Men suffers from cumbersome production which occassionally betrays some of the better songs and does absolutely nothing to redeem the lesser material. Even though he doesn't consistently connect, Powell with his sense of history (he tips his hat musically and lyrically to the likes of Elvis, Badfinger and the Kinks), intelligence and knack for melody and hooks is worth watching.
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AllMusic Review by Brett Hartenbach