Welcome to hipster folk pop. Simple Town is not traditional folk, however, and probably not commercial enough for pop rock. Despite these apparent gaps, several in the biz have commented favorably on Michael Ketover's latest effort. After several recurring stints on the keyboards backing Cass & Clay, this is Michael's debut solo project. OK, maybe a few songs are reminiscent of folk music, but distinctive from a Pete Seeger sing-a-long. The tunes on Simple Town are generally upbeat with energetic acoustic guitar rhythms or genre-bending piano melodies, driven by percussive beats. At times, Michael's voice seems low or gravelly and kinda reminds me of Warren Zevon, Cat Stevens, or Lou Reed, but then in the next verse he goes higher and almost pulls off a wisp of Freddy Mercury or Cher. The lyrics are occasionally fun, sometimes thoughtful (depends whether you think musing over Ben Franklin might be compelling), and confident. At times, the songs tend to feel a bit too evangelical happy for me. If you consider love-laced-with-hope themes as tiring in your music, skip this disc. Look at the titles: In "Ode to a Good Marriage," the first single from Simple Town, Michael offers optimism to the faithless in love. "Love the Lord" is acoustic rock for the stone temple. Pet lovers will enjoy the silly and romantic "One Track Mind" and the wistful "Pets in Heaven." The influences of Zeppelin's 'Tangerine' and The Wall by Pink Floyd are apparent on several tracks. Others, like "Bar Talk" with a cool Hammond organ riff, are reminiscent of outright rockers from the 70's. One young award-winning guitar slinger likes "Axhead Floats" the best, a melodic piano tune with political and biblical references, Rufus Wainwright-style. I think my favorite is the simple, pretty, and provocative 'Value of a Fight.' The eleven tracks on this enjoyable debut CD demonstrate a strangely sanguine outlook. Try one and share the joy. Thank you for supporting local music!
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