Tommy Guerrero

Lifeboats and Follies

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It seems Tommy Guerrero may never radically change his style: heavily laid-back instrumental rock that echoes early-'70s maestros as varied as Shuggie Otis and Jackie Mittoo (funk and rocksteady being his clearest influences), and evokes only the most carefree, summery urban landscapes. Given how rarely any artist decides to travel these paths, music fans should hope that Guerrero simply keeps adding only slight variations to this sound. Fortunately, Lifeboats and Follies is exactly the slight variation that listeners need, both to keep expectations high and curiosity rampant. Although he's changed little about his lineup or his primary music-making aims from Return of the Bastard to this record, Lifeboats and Follies has a different style and feel than Guerrero has produced in the past. Although his material is still textured and patchworked, and still seems to be the invisible soundtrack for some lazy, back-alley afternoon, notes of tension and melancholia -- ably transmitted by Guerrero and Monte Vallier's melodica as well as Marc Capelle's heavily echoed trumpet -- give Lifeboats and Follies the feel of an Ennio Morricone score as much as a Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet record.

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