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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Adam Balbo: Big Kid Now (2008)

I could really go for a cup of coffee

Adam Balbo, a folk singin’ bluesman from San Francisco, California has recently released his new album/EP Big Kid Now and I must say I’m a little disappointed.

Big Kid Now begins with a lot of promise on the title track springing forth with light drumming, springy guitar and Adam’s unique gravely deadpan vocals uttering clever jokes a mile a minute, “You have a heart; it's in your chest/On Tuesdays, you put on your Sunday best/You can use a fork; chopsticks, too/Knives, ice cream scoopers, & spoons/You take three times one; divide five by two/You know what Brian Boitano would do.”

After that song, I started to lose interest. “The Snakeman” delicately steals the melody from Bob Dylan’s “Love Minus Zero/No Limit” as does the slightly ponderous “Stain On My Shirt.” The former might be redeeming if he didn’t sound so tired.

And that’s how most of Big Kid Now sounds like, tired. On the almost unbearable “Monkey Goes To Breakfast,” I swear all the musicians including Adam fall asleep. The organ sounds straight out of Sunday school and the drums are dull and unimaginative.

“16-Bar Blues Love Song” stirs the pot back up a bit if it weren’t so banal and ultimately as formulaic as the title suggests.

Actually I kind of like “Stain On My Shirt,” a duet of sorts, Adam’s deadpan vocals shared by an equally deadpan female singer responding to an insubstantial incident involving ketchup manages to reach out further than its scope. It closes the album nicely, but it took some time before I began to enjoy it.

Adam Balbo has a unique voice and shows lyrical promise on Big Kid Now, but I wish he’d wake up and put a little passion into all of it.

Adam Balbo-"Big Kid Now"

Adam Balbo on Myspace!


Anonymous said...

Well, it's your blog, and you've got a right to your dubious opinion, but I've got to chime in...

You refer to "Monkey Goes To Breakfast" as "almost unbearable." What the hell are you talking about?

This is my favortie tune on the EP. Adam doesn't sound sleepy, rather, he's singing in a very measured way, being gentle with the characters in the song as they tiptoe around each other, and try to find their bearings.

Also, it has a great keyboard sound, surprisingly warm for what may just be a Casio, and reminiscent of the organ on the Velvet Underground's "Ride Into The Sun."

It's a touching tune, engaging in its mystery, with just the right hint of melancholy thrown in.

You mention that it took some time before you began to enjoy "Stain On My Shirt." It's a shame you didn't wait to write a review until you'd given the release more time overall.

Steven Ray Morris said...

While we can both agree to disagree on the quality of material, I think it's unfair of you to make accusations on how much time I spent with the album. I listened to it plenty. I've had it for a month. If you know my blog you know how I hate writing bad reviews so believe me I wouldn't have written it this way if I didn't mean it truly.