Half the Time

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Whoever wrote the bio sheet says that Paul Schalda has "a ghost's voice." If you're a suspicious type, you're likely to suspect that what he actually has is a wimpy voice, and that maybe he's none too careful about pitch, either. And, as they often are, the suspicious types would be right. But that's not all bad. At times, Schalda sounds like a slightly dissolute Ben Folds, and at his best -- as on the shambling roots rock of "Focus" or the gently lovely "Coolin' Down" -- his voice's slightly shredded tone either complements the song's sweetness or fits perfectly into its ragged edges. At his worst, he sounds like he's playing for cheap sympathy: "Hit the Time" is probably supposed to sound impressionistic, but instead it just gives the impression of lazy disorganization, while "This Will Be Our Year" is a brilliant song that cries out for a singer who cares less about self-expression and more about hitting the notes right. Still, Schalda spends more time at the "best" end of the spectrum on this album, and minor gems like "Words for Free" and the powerful "Loser Crew" will have you singing along woozily in no time. Recommended.

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