Flicker of Time

Steve Barton

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Flicker of Time Review

by Hal Horowitz

Pop rocker Steve Barton formed a touring band called the Oblivion Click after 2005's Charm Offensive comeback, and the group now gets credit alongside its ex-Translator frontman on this 2007 release. The quartet also road tested these nuggets for two years before recording them, so the sound is tighter and more confident than previously. It's also harder hitting and not quite as jangly as in the past, with such atmospheric interludes as the reflective opening to "Maps and Bridges" which quickly transforms into a stomping rocker and then back. The song's chorus of "I wanna' lose my way" might indicate a break from the past, which the tougher yet more self-reflective tone on much of this set confirms. "Beverly Park" tells the story of an amusement park the singer used to frequent that was torn down, further cementing the disc's sense of change and acknowledgement that you can't go home again. Barton's snappy pop-punk remains in fine form as exemplified by the pogo-ready opener "Cartoon Safe" whose spitfire words fly by so quickly they beg for a lyric sheet to follow along. The subsequent "Peeping Tom" references a Brit Invasion sound somewhere between the Who and the Beatles but never seems slavishly imitative of either. Barton's voice isn't terribly commanding so it's down to the songs to bear the brunt of the album's success, and they acquit themselves admirably. A few lovely ballads such as the solo piano driven "Under a Broken Sky" show tenderness beneath the more typically rocking fa├žade. Barton proves himself a better than average keyboardist, a talent that isn't obvious in most of his work. The six-minute "Great Expectations" serves as the disc's epic centerpiece, a ruminative track that deals with Barton's somewhat shaky career and future dreams. "Time is like fire, it burns as it goes" sums up his outlook as the tune ebbs and flows with intensity, both questioning his path and somewhat defending it. But the following "You Make Me Smile as Big as I Can" offsets the drama with a snappy pop rocker that shows this album's yin-yang balance and Barton's indisputable talent to convincingly show both sides of his personality.

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