John P. Strohm

Vestavia

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AllMusic Review by

Indie rock wunderkind John P. Strohm kicks off Vestavia, his tenth album, with a flourish of pure sorrow-pop. "Wouldn't Want to Be Me" manages to encompass all the varied styles Strohm has embraced throughout his career -- power pop, (the Blake Babies) edgy rock, (Antenna, Velo Deluxe) and homespun country (the Hello Strangers.) Producer/multi-instrumentalist Ed Ackerson (Polara) once again lends his talents, updating and polishing the distinct Strohm sound that the two forged on 1996's Caledonia. This comfortable melding of influences and vibes wends its way through the other 11 tracks on this disc with an almost otherworldy ease, lulling the listener one moment with a sleepy groove, waking them the next with a snappy pop backbeat and a funky wah-wah guitar. Whether he's ruminating on the perils of co-dependency, ("Better Than Nothing,") the pain of social exclusion, ("The Ballad of Lobster Boy") or stark, cutting loneliness ("In Your Dreams,") John P. Strohm continues to display an uncanny knack for pinpointing and exposing the rawest of human emotions -- as a bittersweet Beatles/Byrds-esque soundtrack plays insistently behind each confession/revelation. Vestavia is, hands down, Strohm's strongest piece of work to date, and the only question left at this point is, where does he go from here?

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