Wreckless Eric - amERICa - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Wreckless Eric - amERICa

by Jeff Penczak Rating:7 Release Date:2015-11-17

Despite a catalogue of over a dozen releases across nearly 40 years, Wreckless Eric Goulden seems blessed (or cursed, depending on your viewpoint) to be eternally tagged as a 'one hit wonder' for his 1977 Stiff debut, ‘(I’d Go the) Whole Wide World’. But that would be an injustice to this devil-may-care personality, whose gift for catchy melodies and sardonic-yet-heartfelt lyrics ranks him up there with Graham Parker as one of the most underappreciated talents to emerge from the Stiff empire. Recently signed to Fire, who’ve reissued several of his post-Stiff albums with various groups (Len Bright Combo, Le Beat Group Electrique, Hitsville House Band), this punny-titled album is his first in over a decade outside the three albums he’s released with his wife, singer/songwriter Amy Rigby.

           For starters, his twangy vocals are as endearing as ever and his jangly strummed guitar backing treats his memorable melodies well, even when they’re competing with distorted electronic effects and wobbly vocal treatments, as on ‘Several Shades of Green’ and ‘White Bread’. The intervening years have seen him slow down to smell the roses and drop in a ballad or three, like the tears-in-your-beers observations of ‘Sysco Trucks’ (omnipresent 18-wheelers dotting freeways all over Eric’s new home in AmERICa).

           Nick Lowe’s recent material has seen him move in a more country direction, and ‘Transitory Thing’ suggests Goulden has adopted a keen appreciation for the downhearted and downtrodden life that peppers many a C&W lyric, although this one seems closer to Neil Young’s junkie nod offs, ca. his “Ditch Trilogy”.

           But his sense of humour is certainly intact, as evidenced by the snarky ‘Boy Band’ (complete with hurricane fighter pilot sound fx) and the satirical, Lowe-ish ‘Property Shows’. The sequencing here starts to drag the album down a bit, as the fast-slow-fast-slow order keeps pulling the rug out from under us as soon as we hit the dance floor, so I’m not sure having a “Fast Side” and “Slow Side” would have been a bad idea. In either case, the unexpected stab at Townsendesque psychedelia, ‘Life Eternal’ is a welcome departure, as is the closing campfire singalong, ‘Have A Great Day’, accompanied by what sounds like a ukulele – or the cheapest dime story guitar box Eric could find at the local Dollar General.

           Fire are reintroducing the world to the music they missed after they lost touch with Eric and his Stiff catalogue, and amERICa is a good re-introduction to his many charms and self-defecating [sic] humour. And be sure to stick around for the brief hidden track at the end!

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