John Common

Good to Be Born

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John Common, formerly the leader of a minor Americana act called Rainville, makes his solo debut with Good to Be Born, an album in the Jayhawks/mid-period Wilco vein of subtly experimental roots rock. The Denver-based singer/songwriter's tunes are firmly in the Neil Young tradition (think Harvest, not Tonight's the Night), and like many of the recent crop of similar songwriters, he's not afraid to mix some lightly psychedelic influences into his songs, such as the Jim O'Rourke-style guitar-noise squalls that decorate the otherwise straightforward pop/rock of "My Heart Is a Wurlitzer." That title points out the album's primary weakness: though Common is a facile melodicist; his lyrics tend towards banal clich├ęs and forced metaphors. Good to Be Born is at times painfully derivative, but its best moments, like the jaunty, clever song of infatuation "In a Bookstore," suggest that John Common has definite potential.

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