Written by Mats Gustafsson. Appeared in issue #12 (October 2001) of The Broken Face
Let's go back in time to the mid/late 60s. The Kinks are at top of their game, a dynamic and undeniably powerful sonic force that seemingly writes those melodic, well-written gems without any effort at all. Move 35 years forward in time and while you're at it, let's build a sonic bridge across the pond from the early British Invasion to the Great Plains of Oklahoma. What we end up with on the American side is a talented man who aims for a similar balance between melodic British songcraft, power chords and folk as the Kinks once blessed the world with. Locust Avenue is a solo moniker for Jeff Richardson, but "Songs for the Shortwave" was embellished and re-recorded with Richardson's longtime friends the Van Wagner brothers. So it feels more like a band release than an actual solo album. The opening four tracks sums up exactly what this album is about. First we have "Vacillate," a lamenting pop song consisting of whirring keyboards, acoustic guitar and Richardson's distinctively emotional voice which gives way for circling guitars and sing along vocals to the up beat pop gem "Flat Ones." Then "Needless Tedium" brings us back to the ground in a slow meeting between folk, country and downcast pop before they decide to slightly turn up the amps in the catchy pop ditty "A Man of Substance." What attracts me to Locust Avenue is how they bounce around the pop universe with a classic songwriting approach but at the same time manage to marry these timeless influences with something that makes it work as a nice document of poignant pop music from the beginning of the 21st century.