Wes Cunningham

Pollyanna

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    8
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AllMusic Review by

With a style that calls to mind Ed Harcourt and Neil Finn, Wes Cunningham has a sweet and soft melodic pop formula that works wonders on "Only You Know." Although the track opens up with a healthy dose of keyboards, the electric guitars and tight pop arrangements start with the chorus. The track also has a lot of similarities to Ben Kweller, ending with a large Beatles circa-Sgt. Pepper's feeling. "Good Good Feeling" builds on this momentum. Harmonies are strong here also, but at times the guitars sound a bit too polished. "I Love Elanor" harks back to Crowded House with a gorgeous lullaby ballad about showing love for a girlfriend. "The world needs to know how much I love her," Cunningham sings over an acoustic guitar. Influences such as XTC and the Gin Blossoms are littering this pop album, especially on the infectious and cavity-inducing "Shoot Straight." "Your Last Kiss" is perhaps the album's shining moment, alternating between a piano ballad and a harder and edgier, guitar-oriented track. One of the positives regarding Cunningham is his economical approach to writing, resembling at times Ron Sexsmith in saying a lot with few words. "I Fall for Her (Over and Over)" isn't as strong as it should be and comes across as a bit too soppy. Thankfully, "No Justice" returns to form with a rhythm section that blends keyboards with electric guitar that sounds like a softer Collective Soul. A spacy pop feeling on "Now or Never" doesn't work as well as it should, perhaps because the track sounds a bit aimless. "Who Was I" has an ambient tone to it, but everything fits better here for some reason. It's a song Ben Folds would have a difficult time passing up. The final "Glory" is a perfect complement to XTC's Apple Venus, Pt. 1. Fans of smart, highbrow pop will find no fault with this album.

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