The Austin Chronicle

SXSW 2014 Records

Reviewed by Doug Freeman, March 14, 2014, Music

A.J. Croce

Twelve Tales (Compass)

After self-producing his last three albums, A.J. Croce went to opposite extremes for his eighth LP, enlisting six producers for two songs each. The resulting Twelve Tales proves expectedly eclectic, yet with a common thread running through Croce's versatile tenor and straightforward, hook-laden pop songwriting. Kevin Kellen's touch at the helm of opener "Right On Time" carries piano pop into Elvis Costello and even Paul McCartney territory, but Allen Toussaint's production of the swelling, gospel R&B-braced "Tarnished and Shining," and barrelhouse Seventies Southern boogie of Leon Russell co-write "Rollin' On" provides the best pairing. Croce's recordings with Cowboy Jack Clement, the last sessions before the Sun Records eccentric passed away last August, drift back into gritty rockabilly on the playful scat of "Easy Money" and hard rhythm of "Momentary Lapse of Judgment." Like his father, Croce crafts expert songs that lean both amusing and tender, yet with his own unmistakable stamp. (9:30pm, St. David's Bethell Hall)


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