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Charm Offensive

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Künstler: Steve Barton


Producer Ed Stasium, who worked on one track for Steve Barton's solo debut, returns nearly six years later to lend his assistance to the entirety of Barton's sophomore release. It is a long interval between albums, especially considering that all four early- to mid-'80s Translator albums with Barton contributing the majority of songs were released in less than that time span. And with 11 brisk songs clocking in at just over a half-hour of playing time, this one isn't exactly overflowing with material. But Barton hasn't lost his knack for British pop hooks or tight-fisted Americana jangle pop. Although this disc shifts genres with the first-half being more punk-inflected, and the last gearing towards retro pop, the songs are well written, crisply performed and smartly produced. Kicking off with the snappy "When You're Gone," a song that would have comfortably slotted on to any Translator disc, Barton asserts the jangly power pop/punk motif that weaves its way through the disc. According to the press notes, "Tina Finds the Silences" -- a snappy rocker -- is a tribute to Talking Heads' bassist Tina Weymouth, but the lyrics don't make that clear. The album's only cover, a frantic and not particularly appropriate take on the Beatles' "She's Leaving Home," shifts the once tender and heartbreaking song kicking and screaming into a rhythmic punk mode that is either a bad joke or a failed experiment. The Beatles' influence dominates the disc but reaches a peak on the Lennon-ish ballad "Narcolepsy Baby" and the '60s Searchers' style of "Shy," which also adds a touch of psychedelia through backwards sounding guitars and Who-like riffs to its British invasion homage. "Hold a Shadow Down" continues the spot-the Beatles-song motif, a game that Charm Offensive plays a little too often. Barton is best when he loses the overt influences and just sounds like himself on the easygoing "Yours to Lose," the most natural flowing track here. Still, retro punk-poppers will find lots to like and will hopefully not have to wait another five years for Barton's follow-up. ~ Hal Horowitz