Steve Forbert

Just Like There's Nothin' to It

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Despite popular belief to the contrary, Steve Forbert has more than one worthwhile album to his credit, but even though there are a few neglected gems in his back catalog, there are also a handful of Forbert discs that offer a couple good songs and a whole bunch of unmemorable ones, and unfortunately 2004's Just Like There's Nothin' to It falls into the latter category. Forbert's first collection of new songs since Evergreen Boy in 2000, Just Like There's Nothin' to It for the most part sounds like the work of a guy who didn't have a whole lot to say when he sat down to work up material; "The Change Song" and "The World Is Full of People" in particular both sound like one-line aphorisms that were somehow stretched out into three-verse tunes (and the fact they're back to back doesn't help the effect one bit). While "Wild as the Wind," noted as a tribute to Rick Danko, is an obviously heartfelt tip of the hat to the former Band vocalist and bassist, the odd juxtaposition of tales of his personal warmth and his appetite for cocaine makes for a less-than-engaging portrait of the man. And the bitterness of the lyrics for "I Married a Girl" contrasts jaggedly with the song's spare, folky melody, and the rough edges that have started to appear on Forbert's still boyish voice only add to the tension. Jason Lehning and Marc Muller's production on Just Like There's Nothin' to It is strong and effective without weighing down the melodies, and the well-observed "I Just Work Here" and the buoyant, poppy "Autumn This Year" show that Forbert can still write a fine song when the gears mesh properly. But that doesn't happen nearly often enough to make this disc as strong as its high points, and Just Like There's Nothin' to It isn't likely to appeal to many listeners beyond Forbert's more fervent fan base.

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