Jack Logan

Nature's Assembly Line

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I can't help but wonder -- how did Robert Pollard become the grand poobah of lo-fi pop songwriting while Jack Logan has been around? Like Pollard, Logan has mastered the art of writing hooky, memorable songs, and can do so at the drop of a hat, but unlike Pollard, Logan's lyrics usually make sense, and there's a solid regular-guy vibe to Logan's work that tends to buffer the edges of his intelligence and sharp wit. Nature's Assembly Line was created by Logan with a group of pals who called themselves "the Monday Night Recorders" -- every Monday night in 2003, they would gather at Kevin Lane's makeshift home studio, write three new songs, and then commit them to tape. At the end of the year, they had 94 completed tracks, and Logan and Lane selected 15 of those to appear on Nature's Assembly Line. While the album certainly has a casual, homemade feel to it, much of the time you wouldn't guess that these songs were written from the ground up the same evening they were recorded; the litany of old odds and ends from "Dad's Suitcase" carries an unexpected resonance, the cryptic "Associate" shows the guy can be engaging and mysterious at the same time, and "Brothers Grimm and the Cowboy Band" is a pithy tale of ill-tempered losers searching for the limelight. Nature's Assembly Line is neither a stunning resumé like Bulk or a superb pop/rock set like Mood Elevator or Monkey Paw, but Logan's tossed-off odds and ends still add up to a pretty impressive album, and I'd certainly take this any day of the week over Fiction Man or Waved Out from that certified genius guy.

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