Brady Seals

Thompson Street

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The scenario is familiar: Country singer/songwriter, after bowing to the dictates of Nashville and scoring major-label hits for a while, gives up the grind and records an independent-label album on which he discovers that, left to himself, he isn't a country singer/songwriter at all, but rather a roots rocker. Brady Seals was a country hitmaker as part of Little Texas in the early '90s and released two modestly selling country solo albums on Warner Bros. Records in 1997 and 1998. But Thompson Street, appearing four-and-a-half years later on Image Entertainment, has no connection to country music at all. Rather, it is a collection of tracks on which electric guitars and four/four beats rule in arrangements suggesting that the artist has spent a lot of time listening to pop/rock music of the mid-'60s. Often, Seals seems to be at one remove from his influences, as, for example, "Things Have Gotta Change" (co-written with Rodney Crowell) sounds like Tom Petty trying to sound like the Byrds, and "That's How It Goes" (co-written with former Jellyfish leader Andy Sturmer) sounds like Nilsson trying to sound like the Beatles. But "Soon" (another Crowell co-composition) and "Let Me Be Your Man" are direct knockoffs of the Beatles circa 1967. Over the derivative arrangements, Seals sings in a gruff voice of love gone wrong and love gone right, occasionally veering off into vaguely political ("Soon") or allegorical ("10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1") territory. The result is an engaging album of mainstream rock, but anyone looking for the old Brady Seals of Little Texas is advised to pass.

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