Matt Harris

Slightly Elliptical Orbit

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It's hard to figure what -- if anything -- Harris wants to express musically on his debut, other than perhaps a desire to lay down material that might fit onto mainstream early-2000s commercial radio. That's not necessarily a slag; plenty of great music has been made by people whose primary or sole goals were to get airplay and sell lots of records. Slightly Elliptical Orbit, however, is not great or good. Multi-instrumentalist Harris has a twisting voice that tends toward the yelp the higher it gets, and if his average pop songs were to have any chance of getting a wider hearing, they might be done better justice by different singers. When Leon Russell comes aboard to duet on "This Train," the character quotient to the vocals jumps immediately. The record's an assortment of bouncy pop songs ("Walkin' in the Rain," no relation to the Ronettes' classic of the same name), adult contemporary fodder ("Crazy [Go in Love]"), and vaguely hard rock ("So Down") with a high-tech studio polish and occasional synthetic instruments. As a singer/songwriter, he doesn't show enough promise to merit further investment in a solo career, though to be fair Russell must share in the responsibility for the quality of the songs, having co-authored nine of the 12 tracks with Harris.

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