Glad all over

Barfly (Roll the Clip Records)

Gladstone

By Kevin Gibson

You've probably already heard "You Mean a Lot," the lead track on Gladstone's new CD, Barfly, on WFPK. My first response to the tune was that the lyric was a little too non-committal. Kind of like two characters in a soap opera confessing their true feelings of intense like to one another. But the more I listened, the more I realized that it's the gentle melody that really takes that song to a higher level.

But my favorite tune on Barfly is "27," an easy twanger that sounds like it could have come from John Fogerty or Dan Fogelberg, and builds to an emotionally charged chorus. This album - especially on this song - leans more toward alt-country than its eponymous predecessor, and it's a distinct improvement in many ways. The production quality is far better than the debut, and Barfly seems better thought out somehow.

As we know, it's all about the music, and front man Neil Hulsewede shows continued growth as a songwriter. Whereas some of this Louisville band's early tunes occasionally meandered, tracks like "You Mean a Lot" and the steel-guitar-bolstered weeper "Sways" hit their target dead center. The only song that fails is the somewhat pedestrian title track, but it is bolstered with strong tracks on either side.

Bottom line, this is another good product from another good River City group. I've said it before and I'll say it again: There is no limit to this band's potential.