Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., Nov. 25, 2005
Snow (Little Dog)
Meat Puppets guitarist, primary songwriter, and Austinite Curt Kirkwood's solo debut is a languid, homespun affair. Although Snow flickers intermittently with the sky-spanning illumination that characterized the Puppets' sound, this is a man-and-his-acoustic-guitar LP at its foundation, eschewing high desert rock & roll for an eclectic, folk-flavored country approach. Opener "Golden Lies" reads like a rough-hewn bid toward Americana, though its depiction of lying golden swans is clearly on another plane altogether. "Beautiful Weapon" makes an airy nod toward L.A.'s mid-Eighties psych-pop underground, but "Light Bulb" gets downright mind-bending when Lee Thornberg's trumpet solo comes up unexpectedly. Longtime Dwight Yoakam guitarist Pete Anderson produced and arranged Snow (he also helmed the Puppets' Forbidden Places), and he does a meticulous job of accenting the 10 basic tracks with subtle, strategically placed instrumentation like the lonely piano and steel guitar trade-off on "Circles." Although the resulting tone is cozy enough, Kirkwood's gruff, disengaged vocals repeatedly undermine the overall cause. Keeping the sound casually sparse isn't inherently problematic, but here, potentially effective tunes like "Box of Limes" and "Here Comes Forever" are laid-back to the point of slighting themselves. As such, Snow comes off more like a promising sketch than a vibrant painting.