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Dennis Crommett

In the Buffalo Surround

(Signature Sounds/Soft Alarm; US: 22 Mar 2011; UK: 22 Mar 2011)

Worker Bee

Massachusetts-based singer/songwriter Dennis Crommett is one heck of a busy guy. In addition to his solo songwriting, he is the guitarist for the chamber pop band Winterpills, fronts the indie-rock group Spanish For Hitchhiking, and sometimes makes electro-pop music under the moniker City of Domes. Whew! That’s a lot of music for just one person! Well, on his latest solo outing, In the Buffalo Surround, Crommett flies his folksy alt-country colours and mines a generally soft and lush sense of songcraft that is equal parts Mark Kozelek (Sun Kil Moon), Sam Beam (Iron and Wine) and Neil Young. With a voice that’s reminiscent of Canadian folkie Jim Bryson, Crommett unspools roots rock songs and quiet ballads on this, his second album and first in five years, with a hint of an indie rock edge that capture the essence of coming of age in New England. The songs are a just a tad bit on the unremarkable side as Crommett doesn’t really put his own stamp on them, instead inviting you to make comparisons to the aforementioned acts through association. That said, if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, those performers would find Crommett’s veil of homage to be a warm and inviting companion piece to their own material. Crommett deftly balances sentimentality and nostalgia in his songs, without it ever becoming cloying. All in all, you’ve all pretty much heard this elsewhere, but Crommett’s wood hewn acoustic songwriting chops shine through with particular resonance and will delight anyone in need of a quick alt-country fix. Crommett may have his fingers in many pies, but despite his generally prolific nature, he still brings tunefulness to the table with his latest solo album, making it worth checking out.

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Zachary Houle is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He has been a Pushcart Prize nominee for his short fiction, and the recipient of a writing arts grant from the City of Ottawa. He has had journalism published in SPIN magazine, The National Post (Canada), Canadian Business, OttawaShowbox.com and more. He also reviews books for bookwookie.ca.


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