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Walker, schmalker

By Danny Letz

Peter Walker

Young Gravity

Dangerbird

Two-and-a-half out of five stars

Grizzled-singing chorale virtuosos carrying a guitar and a heart full of pain are so commonplace nowadays that the list of forgettable “singer-songwriter” releases probably stretches from sunny Los Angeles to gloomy New York City and back.

What these artists and albums have in common is a commitment to mediocrity and banality so derivative that the airwaves reek of the stamp of corporate manufacture.

In his third release, Young Gravity, Peter Walker combines the blandest of folk-country-rock musicians–Wilco–with the blandest of false sentiments.

It’s hard to talk specifically about the tracks on Gravity: They all sound roughly the same.

There is a memorable moment in “By a Thread” when Walker says, “I don’t look in the mirror when I get out of bed/ I don’t want to define how I look in my head,” but that’s one of the single good lines on an album in a genre dependent upon good lyrics. It doesn’t cut the mustard–few of the others really do much in the way of meaningful communication or discordance.

Or, here’s another alternative theory: There ARE, perhaps, meaningful lyrics on Young Gravity, it’s just that they are impossible to find underneath all of Walker’s production echo?echo?echo.

Walker mopes his way through 10 tracks of reverb, brought to its culmination in the album’s final track, “On TV,” a strong candidate for the mopiest, echo-iest, most blas track on the album, which is saying a lot. And with faux intensity, as indicated by the punctuating drums of Gravity’s opening track, “What Do I Know,” Walker never attempts anything outside the conventional safety zone.

All of this makes it sound like Young Gravity is a terrible album, but isn’t even spectacular enough to be spectacularly bad. It’s just very, very mediocre. Gravity is stuff heard before–the same half-hearted laments of a tortured late-20s or 30-something guy. Nothing original. Nothing new.

What gives a respected singer or songwriter clout and ability to mope about is an original sense of vision and portrayal. Walker’s release, unfortunately, has neither.

It’s likely there are many that will take to Walker’s musical sensibilities–and, really, in comparison to some of many other mainstream aberrations produced concurrent with Young Gravity, the record isn’t THAT bad.

But choosing the lesser (or blander) of two evils is still not a choice one wants to make.

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