When Whiting Tennis amplifies his own talents over his clear love of Neil Young, Three Leaf Clover shines. Unfortunately, that only happens about half the time.
If Three Leaf Clover were released as an EP, it'd be one of the better small releases so far this year. The first six songs are beautifully sparse and full of slow, steamy guitar riffs. The bucolic ballad "This Town" injects the simplest quotidian phrases with all the sadness and claustrophobia of small town life (at the beginning a waitress asks, "What'll you have? What'll you have?"). Opener "Teenage Daughter" name-drops Kris Kristofferson's "Sunday Morning Coming Down" and manages to pay homage to the country classic, while also painting its own distinct emotional landscape, by tapping into a wistful regret that is as beautiful as it is achingly realized. "Japanese Lanterns" rounds out the first half of the record with the same brooding, as Tennis suffers through a number of artifacts left behind by an ex-lover. The second half of the record unfortunately loses the momentum. There's no doubting Tennis has got the goods to produce some classic, country-infused and indelible narratives; he just might do well to mute his influences a little more, and let his own talents shine through.