Bow Thayer

Maintenance for Mood Swings

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As the title of this album suggests, singer/songwriter Bow Thayer is an eclectic sort, shifting from strummy folk to darker-edged moody indie roots music. His occasional banjo and producer/engineer Dave Rizzuti's pedal steel bring in the backwoods influences, yet Maintenance for Mood Swings is far from a country album. Rather Thayer is a smart, literate folk-rocker who is capable of shifting gears within his genre, making this a varied project that takes a few spins to connect. His melancholy voice is well-suited to songs that generally stray down the dark end of the street. The disc starts promisingly with two of its finest pieces. Both "Tuck and Roll" and "Crow Flies" recall the music of Morphine and the Twinemen, helped enormously on the former tune by their mainstay Dana Colley's baritone sax. Thayer moves into bluegrass mode with added fiddle, dobro, and mandolin on the twangy "Fixit Shop," but even the pickin' and grinnin' can't hide this track's somber side. While on the surface there is little to distinguish Thayer from dozens of other artists who clutter the Americana field, his songs show promise to break free of the pack. "Edge of Flight" adds percussion and trumpet as it picks up intensity with Rizzuti's soaring guitar that propels the track as it revs up. "Lori Lynn" is a twangy rocker that shows he can kick out the jams when needed. There are hints of Buffalo Springfield in that band's quieter moments that kickstarted the country-rock genre, and like Springfield, Thayer smartly avoids falling into clich├ęs that litter the field. He hasn't hit a home run here, but as a rookie, he's got the potential to be a star player, and this is an impressive start.

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