Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., Nov. 23, 2001
Milton MapesThe State Line (My Aunt Jane's Recordings)
Milton Mapes is a fluid configuration of musicians put together by Austin-based songwriter Greg Vanderpool and named in honor of Vanderpool's grandfather. Consisting of seven songs recorded in Tennessee and Texas, the group's debut is a subtle yet touching journey down the two-lane blacktops of bypassed dreams. Vanderpool's tunes and vocal style bear a distinct West Texas campfire element, but his arrangements often come from the Nashville-tinged pop-rock avatar axiom of Wilco. Bittersweet languor meets with steeled resignation on "Used to be Enough," a twang-laden elegy featuring a strong harmony vocal from Michael Fracasso. "Down by You" utilizes an incendiary four-track mix of distorted guitars and a rough-hewn vocal to illustrate the velvet rut of mutually destructive romance, while "Lubbock" sends a bitter winter chill up the spine with its evocative imagery of driving endlessly around the city on Loop 289. "Radio Tower," the album's most pop-oriented tune, captures the universal lamentation of those who've just been struck with the icy realization that they're no longer among the young. "What happened to that spiritual song," Vanderpool sings, "lost in the static on the AM band, wish I could get it back again." In spite of its sample-package length, The State Line offers a wealth of musical promise for the wandering wounded.