Eddie from Ohio

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On their seventh album, the acoustic quartet Eddie from Ohio continues to serve primarily as a songwriting outlet for its quirky, individual writers Michael Clem and Robbie Schaefer. Early on in the group's career, Clem wrote the majority of the material, which tended to be highly imaginative if somewhat novelty-oriented, while Schaefer's work was a bit more direct and emotional. But by now the two seem to have influenced each other: Clem has developed more of a romantic component, while Schaefer can be just as comic as his bandmate. On the title song, for example, he sings of the virtues of moving fast, citing both Albert Einstein and Richard Petty, and in "One Thousand Sarahs" he sings from the perspective of an envious female pre-adolescent criticizing a peer. Still, he tends to contribute the more sincere compositions, such as the road song "Number Six Driver" and the immigration song "Cándido & América." When Clem removes his tongue from his cheek, it's usually to express dissatisfaction, such as in "The Best of Me," in which he self-pityingly attacks happy couples. Even here, however, he can't resist his humorous tendencies -- after noting that couples "have nicknames no one else knows," he starts citing examples ("Widgie," "Boopsie,") and then can't stop himself, devoting a whole verse to more of them. As ever, the group's sparkling harmonies, the busy percussion of Eddie Hartness, and, on many of the songs, the vibrant lead vocals of Julie Murphy Wells carry the music, which is deliberately eclectic, featuring bossa nova ("Monotony"), mariachi ("Tommy the Canexican"), and other styles. This is still a band that makes its living in clubs, and you can tell by the comedy, the music's surface pleasures, and the inclusion of a drinking song, "Tom Burleigh's Dead," that no doubt makes a great encore.

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