It was "Green River Killer" that first caught my attention, well it would, wouldn't it? Another song was playing entirely, but so enrapt did I become in Rich Schroder's lyrics, included with his CD, that I never even thought to change tracks. When a song packs that kind of power just on paper, you can imagine the punch it packs backed with music.
Your Kind Words is the guitarist's debut as a singer/ songwriter, and a stunning one at that. The tradition of musical story telling in this country is long established, but Schroder comes from the rock world, which makes his transition all the more phenomenal.
"Killer," is the best analysis cum critique on the serial murders I've ever read, and I live in Seattle. Schroder lives in Boston, and thus his take on the Catholic Church's pedophile scandal, "Father Jones", is less ripped from the headlines, than from the heart and soul.
Elsewhere he's not so understanding, as on the tongue-in-cheek "A Hillbilly Makeover", where a cracker gets his well deserved come-uppance. He has more sympathy for "The Repo Man" though, a hard-working shlub who eventually finds himself in the same position as those unfortunates, whose possessions he's been carting off for years. Schroder also offers a wry smile to the all thumbs guy who is "(Sorry That I'm Not) The Home Depot Type".
Child and wife abuse, consumer addiction, love lost and lives destroyed, are other themes eloquently explored. "Me and Cousin Willy" is an entire novella, succinctly delivered in four verses and a chorus, encapsulating one young man's entire short, desperate, desolate life.
To call them stories though, is to belie their heart and soul, for at their best, Schroder and his writing partner Adam Ross offer not mere anecdotes or incidents, but create vivid characters who take on fully fleshed out lives before our eyes and ears, each brimming with emotional nuances and twists and turns of fortune.
The varied music, some involving full bands, provide superb backdrops that help fill in the lyrical scenes, heighten the atmospheres, and beautifully further the story lines. This is a stunning set, and rock's loss was the rest of the music world's great gain.