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Andy Werth: Seeing Stars

Andy Werth: Seeing Stars

Release Date:2007

By Ed Schrader | Posted 1/9/2008

Seattle singer/songwriter Andy Werth sounds almost self-consciously cheesy, like he's sprinting from "cool" like it's a B-movie killer. Think vocals that sound like Maroon 5's Adam Levine meets Rufus Wainwright and tight, almost flaunted, horn-filled rock orchestrations fit for late-night TV talk shows.

Seeing Stars, Werth's follow-up to 2006's Back to the Sun debut, opens with "Goodnight," a vigorous introduction that sounds like the result of mating Rick Moranis' Little Shop of Horrors' "Suddenly Seymour" with the E Street Band. The following track, "Snowing in Buffalo," feels like They Might Be Giants supplemented with scratchy Superchunk-esque lyrics such as "let's get out of this place/ lose myself in your face." These tracks are a good composite of Werth's approach: He draws from a variety pack of influences that would be noninterchangeable in less inventive hands.

Sometimes the polarization broadens with songs like "Miss Lonely," combining a Burt Bacharach-style soundscape with Latin rhythms and a vocal narrative that comes off like a self-deprecating Billy Joel, if that ever existed. Werth flexes his lyrical muscles further, on topics ranging from nasally proclamations of self-denial on "It's Alright" to the regret of having wasted your twenties on "Tower."

Much of this disc's strength is in Werth's stellar arrangement skills, employing layers of flugelhorns, organs, electric and acoustic guitars, and piano. This approach has become less common in our world of loops and samples; it's refreshing and, again, very "uncool." His backing band delivers topnotch grooves with a sound that is tighter than a recession budget. If these tunes were performed solo, on an acoustic guitar, it wouldn't measure up to the power that results from a full-blown pub rock-style band burning down the house. Your dad doesn't listen to Steely Dan once a week for the lyrics alone. (Ed Schrader)

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