Michael Shelley

Goodbye Cheater

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It's easy to lose track of a performer as he or she moves from label to label, and that's a shame with a talented pop-smith like Michael Shelley. Goodbye Cheater (2004) displays the same kind of smart pop sensibility that made I Blame You such a good album way back in 2001. Although it might be easy to compare Shelley to an earlier version of Elvis Costello, he manages to be smart while still keeping the music visceral and fun. The first several songs -- "We Invented Love," "Hurry on Up and Fall in Love," and "Out" -- range quite a bit in style (old rock, country, minor-key pop) while retaining a similar good-time spirit. Like old rock and pop, Shelley keeps the arrangements fairly simple and straightforward, and hardly any song lasts over a couple of minutes. The big exception, time-wise, is "The Leaves Fell Off the Trees," a dreamy, five-minute concoction that floats along like the best of early-'70s pop/rock. Although Goodbye Cheater is rather short at 33 minutes, it still holds a dozen good songs in a variety of styles, so it's long enough for a pop album. For fans of good songs, emotive vocals, and solid ensemble pop/rock, Shelley once again proves he has the goods.

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