Another Golden Record?
If you went to a bar and found all the liquor replaced by music, you'd probably leave and go get a 12- pack - after all you go to bars for booze, not music. But if you decided to stick around, you may want to order a glass of Goldenboy. Mix one part Beck with one part Beatles, then add a splash of the Traveling Wilburys and you get a smooth, cool blend.
Singer-songwriter Shon Sullivan's superb piano and keyboard playing highlight Blue Swan Orchestra, Goldenboy's debut album. Sullivan earned the nickname Goldenboy from his ability to switch from cello to guitar to piano during a set while on tour with Elliot Smith.
Smith makes a cameo on the album, singing backup on "Summertime." David McConnell, who has worked with Smith in the past, not only co-produces Blue Swan Orchestra, but plays bass on the album and offers his voice on a couple of tracks.
Goldenboy can easily garnish references to Beck, post-Odelay, both because of his ability to play various instruments and for the music itself. Like Beck, Goldenboy fuels folkish-pop lyrics with layers of fuzzy electric keyboard - at times it could draw comparison to the Beatles' White Album, but usually carries a sound that's all its own.
Interestingly enough, Goldenboy uses plenty of geography-based analogies in song titles. Songs about the seasons are prevalent - "Sing Another Song for the Winterlong," "Summertime" and "Blue Swans of Winter." So are weather conditions, with "Twenty Months in a Hail Storm" and "Sunlight Through the Fog." Perhaps the Weather Channel could use some of Sullivan's songs to spice up its content.
While Sullivan's solo debut isn't a must-have - Beck's Mutations and Sea Change are better examples of what this album tries to accomplish - it is a good CD for enjoying a lazy Sunday afternoon. A few songs, namely "Babydoll" and "Sunlight Through the Fog," are easy to pass over, while other tracks, such as "Summertime," are addictive and easy to hum along with after hearing it a few times.
Blue Swan Orchestra is good, but loses its luster when compared to albums of similar style. But just because Goldenboy doesn't get the gold medal doesn't mean he isn't worthy of a silver or bronze.