Fallon Crush frontman Steve Smith is familiar from folkish '90s Aussie band Catherine Wheel (not the English band of the same name). With this debut, his new group reconnects his older talents, the kind that led his Catherine Wheel to be invited to tour with the complementary Crowded House. His voice is like Gerry Rafferty's ("Stuck in the Middle with You," "Baker Street") if that Scot sang light R.E.M.-ish tunes developed on acoustic guitars, colored with flavorful pianos/organs, electrics, and bass and drums. It's exquisitely executed, but like Crowded House or Elvis Costello, risked being too mannered if this Steve wasn't such an accomplished song-"Smith." Musical/lyrical romance abides, but it bedevils, being secretly distressed ("The Trouble with a Moonlit Night") or passing ("Over Me") -- adding flesh to his singer/songwriter bones. Nice.
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