Eddie from Ohio

Looking out the Fishbowl

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Songwriters Michael Clem and Robbie Schaefer, who separately write the songs for Eddie From Ohio, share an interest in small, quirky subjects: Clem writes from the perspectives of fish and dogs on "Fifth of July," pens an ode to his home state of Virginia on "Old Dominion," and describes the awkwardness of a visit home by a priest long stationed in India in "From Dacca"; Schaefer, a master of odd romantic pairings, explores the difficulties of a multi-national couple in "Stupid American," an interracial one in "Minnesota 1945," and reflects on lost opportunities in "Good at That." Singer Julie Murphy Wells makes the most of the songs' possibilities, whether comic or wistful, aided by the band's sprightly acoustic arrangements. Typical of a group that makes its own records for its own label, some of the references are too local or obscure for anyone who doesn't follow them around their mid-Atlantic haunts. But when the songwriters really let themselves go, the results are both hilarious and moving. For Schaefer, that would be on "Maylee, I Had a Dream," in which the singer worries about the dangers posed by a lover who isn't yet ready to break up, but may be violent, and for Clem it's the album's best song, "Eddie's Concubine," in which a woman laments her relationship with a bar owner. In this case, the references may be local, but they're clear. You can't hear a couplet like "Eddie makes a pretty good living, stealing from the college bands/Eddie pulls locals with the Skynyrd groups, but only serves the beer in cans," without thinking that the author knows his subject well.

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