Billy Wallace

The Road Spit Me Out

Written by: TL on 04/08/2009 17:42:32

Okay sports fans, it's been a couple of days and I guess I better pick up my stride and start dishing out some more reviews. First act over the counter is a fellow by the name of Billy Wallace, coming out of Virginia with his debut album "The Road Spit Me Out" and aiming to impress you with his country guitar and his Bob Dylan impression.

So yes, this is folk or country or whatever you want to call it, the nature of it reveals itself in a matter of seconds anyway. Old timers might be reminded of Bob Dylan or Willie Nelson upon listening, while younger listeners might have heard something similar on records by Conor Oberst or Ryan Adams. And of course I made an understatement before: There are in fact a whole lot more at play here than just acoustic guitars and vocals. Banjos, violins, a variety of horns and backing vocals from both gang choirs and female guest singers, that all is in there, however, it only contributes to the country mood via traditional arrangements, rather than spice it up and make it sounds like something different.

.. And that's really the thought I can't shake while listening to this album. I realize the whole discussion about being original in rock'n'roll has been done to death twice over by now, but here's the thing. Billy Wallace isn't as good as Bob Dylan is at doing what Bob Dylan does. Duuh'h, that goes without saying right? So he must be doing what almost everyone is doing right now: Reinterpreting the sound and expression of those who inspired him. But with this music, the thing is that's been done before too now hasn't it? By those two other gentlemen I mentioned before, right? So does Billy write as good songs as Conor Oberst or Ryan Adams? It might be less of a sacrilege to suggest this, but still, the answer is no, and the sad fact is that from what I can hear, he doesn't contribute anything more than any of them either.

So the most important questions of all is: Why would I want to listen to you Billy, when I can not only listen to the millions of records Bob Dylan has put out, but also to the quite substantial number of songs from the hands of Oberst and/or Adams? I guess this review could've gone in deeper by looking for the answer to that on a track by track basis, but I didn't see any point when none of the songs seemed to hold it. It's not that this is a bad record. In fact it is quite enjoyable as moody background music, but once given my full attention, it just seems much too ordinary and unambitious. Except for the closing song "When We Run Out Of Money", I'm afraid I'm not feeling any of the lyrics or melodies, and by the time the listener gets around to this (if they even do), it is going to feel like too little too late.

Download: When We Run Out Of Money
For The Fans Of: Bob Dylan, Conor Oberst, Ryan Adams

Release Date 29.06.2009
Uneasy Records

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