Not quite a thousand songs, A Thousand Songs is a compilation of four-track recordings Royal City member James (aka Jim) Guthrie made and released on cassette between 1993 and 1999. Those who came to Guthrie's solo material via his accessible pop album Now More Than Ever will most likely be thrown off by A Thousand Songs, which definitely feels like a grab bag of material -- much of it being fairly experimental, at least in terms of pop music. Most of the tracks are fairly short, and even the ones that have a nice pop sensibility are quickly derailed by a high-pitched vocal, the sound of a tape getting munched, a clattering sound effect, or just what seems like a premature end to the song. The music ranges from Beatles-esque pop-ola ("Trust") to Ween-ish wackiness (the title track, for one), from synth-heavy ("Not Yalk's Requiem") to utterly sparse (much of the rest). Midway through, Guthrie sings "I don't wanna be a rock star", and the willy-nilly nature of the songs and the way they bump up against each other underscores that point nicely. That's not an indictment, by any means, because Guthrie seems to know how to handle each of the things that he attempts here and -- like a good Guided by Voices album (which this one seems much of a piece with) -- most of the tracks end fairly quickly, which means by the time you're about to get tired of one of them, Guthrie has already moved on.
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AllMusic Review by Sean Carruthers