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Crooked Roads, Love, Again (self-released)
Chris Dingman, the heart and soul of Crooked Roads, is no choir boy. But then again, neither is Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, or Michael Stipe of R.E.M., and plenty of people dig their quirky, often out of tune, but somehow compelling vocal styles. Initially thinking of himself as a poet, the young Dingman ultimately found an outlet for his muse in song. Where his voice is lacking he often compensates with intelligent, at times humorous, and poetic lyrics. Dingman shows his lighter side with "I'd Rather Be with Her", a straight-up country tune where he informs a current love interest that he'd rather be with a former girlfriend. On tracks like "All of Life's Loneliness", which calls to mind Rick Danko of the Band, "Along the Way", and "Learn to See", where Dingman is accompanied only by piano, the listener can practically hear Dingman's heart breaking. Unfortunately, a few songs, and a bit of the production, sound just plain lazy. On "What the Hell?" Dingman actually sings "You know I love you but I hate your guts..." And some of the vocals are so out of tune it would be a little ridiculous to justify their presence on the album by saying it was a stylistic thing. All that said, the musicianship, particulary the guitar work, is superb, and the overall fidelity of the album is also very good.