Living Well is the wildly eclectic Rob Crow's fourth solo album on Temporary Residence, a label known for taking chances. Like many of his other projects, this one is comprised of mainly short, angular and quirky songs. Crow played virtually everything on the record and claims he recorded almost all of it in his bedroom studio. There are many sources of inspiration here, from Big Star to the Paisley Underground of the early '80s to '90s indie rock and of course, Elliott Smith. None of these things are bad, since Crow's focus is so utterly precise that he never waivers or tries to cram too much into one song. "Taste," for instance could have been on a tribute to Smith, and many would have thought the late songwriter authored it. "Up," with its acoustic guitars and primitive drum loops, has a tight rhyme scheme, and its gentleness is belied by the poignancy of his words. "Burn" sound like Chris Bell on downers. "If Wade Would Call" has all of its angles built in, like Sebadoh playing with Jellyfish, but it's so slow and elegant it's all on its own out there in the muddled, music-littered universe. Clearly, Crow is like many indie artists out there at present, putting things together in his own way from the sounds he's heard in his record collection. Quite frankly, for a lot of people, this is tiring and disposable. That said, Crow isn't one of them. There's always a twist or two in every song that is entirely his own. His lyric writing is full of puns, funny one-liners and tender truths. Living Well is the evidence of just this: Crow knows how to make records; he has just enough restraint to allow the listener into his world and let you stay there for as long as you wish. It's familiar, but it doesn't sound samey or in any way generic. In fact, once you've heard him, you'd know his sound immediately. This one works better than all of his other records simply because his indelible stamp is all over these songs and override his influences.
Living Well Review
by Thom Jurek