Reviewed by Raoul Hernandez, Fri., Aug. 12, 2005
The Greater Good (Wild Abandon Ltd)
Craig Ross is one musical operative whose identity needs revealing. The Austin guitarist/producer/singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist vanished after his 1996 MCA debut, Dead Spy Report, which still sounds like a mid-Seventies John Lennon album, pop mind games. With its unreleased follow-up cannibalized for The Greater Good, an album that feels lovingly layered over a long period until every fuzzy flourish and moan has been burnished to a lustrous tousle, this pop-savvy spy has finally come in out of the cold. Ross sparks like the Fountains of Wayne, the songs bathed in jet streams of billowed harmonies and warm acoustics, as on "Get Out of the Water." In title alone, late-Greater "Trouble" evokes Lindsey Buckingham, whose Southern California sweep shuffles to life on Ross' piano like a 1930s musical. ("Why should we have any time for trouble?") Double-billed with the ivory ballet of "In Heaven," and you too will dance a rapturous stomp. The heat-warped whisper and slap of "How the West Was Won" rides out of "Heaven" and into "Trouble." "Former Long Walk" and "Glow in the Dark" usher out The Greater Good like dusk, singing to themselves and, in the case of the latter, rustling up sonic underbrush. Welcome back 007.