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CD Review: Beau Jennings

Beau Jennings And The Holy Tulsa Thunder

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The Deal: Dull solo debut from Cheyenne lead singer.

The Good: This record will not cause cancer, shit on the floor or sleep with your girlfriend.

The Bad: This solo debut from the lead singer of the Oklahoma-born band Cheyenne is the kind of record that might have survived the cut-out bin when gas was $2.50 a gallon, but not today. It's never really awful, which might've made it more interesting, but nowhere near memorable enough for these belt-tightening times. Built primarily around the twin pillars of guitar and piano, Jennings' songs – be they marches, shuffles, ballads or would-be rockers – always feel mid-tempo, gliding past with the same monotony that driving across a state like Oklahoma evokes. The absence of pedal steel, banjo, fiddle or any other country rock accoutrement – which can sometimes mask the material's ordinariness – hurts this record. Lead-off cut "Holy Tulsa Thunder" initially sounds like some blend of the Old 97's and Whiskeytown, but skirts too close in the end to soft-core twang like the Eagles or Jackson Browne. Likewise, "The Opolis" suggests A.M.-era Wilco, only without Jeff Tweedy's hooks or underlying angst, and "Girl From Oklahoma" is the Jayhawks without the transcendent harmonies. Jennings' home-grown narratives contain some arresting images, but the lukewarm settings sap them – and the record overall – of any staying power.

The Verdict: Git yer twang on elsewhere.

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