Evan Brubaker's 1996 release, Third Floor, comes with an eight-page booklet, resplendent in glowing colors, which houses his introspective lyrics and novel photography, making this album feel almost like a mini soap opera. A halo on his head can't hide the devious thoughts in "Climbing Up the Stairs" where he ponders the fact that she didn't say "anything about a girlfriend or a boyfriend/maybe I can spend the night." The lines are reversed where the singer didn't say anything "about a girlfriend or a boyfriend," but that he does have someone waiting at home. The snappy humor of the affair that doesn't happen subsides with thoughts of suicide at the "Side of the Road." Each song has a little blurb above the lyrics which help explain the thought process that gave birth to the music; very helpful on a CD with so many clever ideas and diverse elements. An extraordinary song, "The Quiver in My Voice" is shown respect with an equally extraordinary performance. Brubaker gave this one to his brother Eric one Christmas -- and touching little notes like this add to the charm of the collection of tunes which are really essays following essays. "My Insides" gets vocally real serious, and Brubaker's guitar playing sounds like a man older than his years, and it's a mournful questioning. Although onstage he comes off like your normal folk musician, the solitary figure climbing shawdowy stairs inside the tray card when you pull out the CD, and the bound and gagged singer/songwriter staring up with a look or resignation on the back cover, can't hide the curious nature of titles like "Explain It Away," "If I Were to Get," and "Funny Feeling." A really different and personal recording from an insightful character.
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AllMusic Review by Joe Viglione