Roses Are Black (Fat Caddy)
Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Feb. 15, 2008
Austin CollinsRoses Are Black (Fat Caddy)
Roses Are Black, the sophomore offering from local songwriter Austin Collins, is rooted firmly in familiar soil, a well-trodden alt.country field that's already been harvested for all its worth. With production from Centro-matic's Will Johnson, Collins' quartet sounds solid but hardly blossoms beyond the shadow of 1990s precursors like Whiskeytown or Son Volt. Opener "11 Months" casually broods into the twanging bounce of "Broken," while the title track quakes with a convincing vulnerability atop plodding dark guitars and the requisite touch of steel. The chorus harmonies rise with a predictable if polished constancy, while Collins' vocals on songs like "Unapology," "Today," and "House Without Windows" carry just enough grit to get dirty without actually digging, especially on bar-burners "8 Dollar Thrills" and the politically poised "Can't Say This at Home." Collins sows a few promising seeds but never attempts to break any new ground, and roses today are a dime a dozen.