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Imagine Pat Metheny meets Robert Earl Keen. Then make that combination really toe-tappingly happy. Maybe a more apt description of the Pat McGee Band would be the Spin Doctors married and with children. Quite honestly, I had never heard of the Pat McGee band before this CD arrived. I don’t have any promotional material nor any liner notes, but with a little listening and then a little surfing I soon discovered the PMB phenomena, something storming colleges across the East Coast. Strikingly pretty, though rather bland, harmonies abound on Shine, most growing from bluegrass and folk traditions. Lots of major chords interspersed with some minor and augmented sad-puppy moments make you just have to smile until you feel your heart soar into a blue sky filled with cotton candy clouds.

Firmly established as part of the college rock scene, the Pat McGee Band does not attempt the droning and soul-sucking classic rock virtuoso jams of the Dave Mathews Band, though the energy and music of both bands feel quite similar. Rather, Pat McGee’s songs tend toward acoustic ballads with heart-touching narratives of heroes, heartbreak, and the magic of love taking over his heart, all quietly backed with just the right touch of funky bongo and conga syncopation.

While I can find nothing to really praise in the music of the Pat McGee Band, I have trouble finding anything truly distasteful on this album either. But then it is hard to hate a puppy even when he poops on your bed. A little heavy on the “earnest factor,” The Pat McGee Band does manage to fill a space with pretty sounds. Most of the songs on Shine sound quite similar, some merely a little funkier than others. If you like pretty things that only wilt when they die, if you like bittersweet love and longing, or if you are going to like adult contemporary radio in about seven years, then this record is for you. Shine makes for great make-out and swoon music, maybe even late night party clean-up music, but not much else. Then again, maybe I’m too old.

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