Midway through this collection of mostly-acoustic, vaguely folky songs, the band shows up. Suddenly the meandering tunes and Dylanesque honking is transformed into a rich bluesy stomp entitled, appropriately enough, “The Alchemist”. It’s the record’s best song by a mile, but unfortunately its arrival does not indicate a sudden acoustic-to-electric dichotomy a la, say, Rust Never Sleeps. (Hey, we can dream, right?) Instead, the band retires into the shadows again, offering only tasteful drum and bass punctuation, and Xander’s voice takes center stage. That voice is the weakest link in the mix, though, and the songs are not well served by it. Some, like “John Wayne” and “A Long One” offer an affecting sense of regret, but too many others just noodle along pointlessly, and the record withers away rather than actually delivering the listener to anyplace compelling.
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Sci-Fi Author Ursula LeGuin's Stories of Class War, Religious Dissension, Identity Politics and More