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Baird album fails to impress

Nov. 16, 2010

By Chris Day

Rob Baird's "Blue Eyed Angels" is a collection of country/bluegrass songs that have the potential to move and entertain its listener, provided he or she is new to the genre. Anyone well-versed in this style will likely be unimpressed.

The band features a similar acoustic twang as bands such as Nickel Creek most likely due to second guitarist Scott Davis' use of a mandolin on several of their songs. Not to say that every song sounds the same, but they do seem to use the same formula: Baird creates a progression and melody while multi-instrumentalist Scott Davis picks an instrument with which he adds texture. Many songs feature a mandolin or a lap steel guitar, depending on Baird's and Davis' interpretation of the song and what it calls for. Several of the songs also feature pentatonic lead guitar riffs and fills, which have been a longtime standard of the genre.

The production is crisp. This album features five musicians and three singers (two of them backup) and each of them is heard distinctly. This music was expertly captured. The problem is, anyone that is familiar with country, bluegrass and even folk (yes this record touches on that too) will find themselves having a difficult time shaking the feeling that they have already heard these songs before. The aforementioned Nickel Creek is a band that writes in this style, but the progressive elements of their music keep it sounding fresh.

The timbre of Baird's voice is enjoyable as he has a gravelly southern tone that works for a record like this. But again, it is very generic.

For this reason, the best song on the album is "Crash Hard." It features an interesting verse riff based on a slightly more obscure chord progression that conjures up images of the Wild West and transitions seamlessly into a catchy chorus. Catchiness is another positive for this album, but again, every record in this oversaturated style of music is catchy.

At the end of the day, "Blue Eyed Angels" is a record that does what it is trying to do. All the genre traits are here, the storyteller lyricism, the southern flavored vocals, organs, mandolins, but it is simply too predictable to set the country music world on fire.

Grade: C+