Mike Dekle,
Finely Tuned
(Parlay Records, 2000)

Finely Tuned by Mike Dekle has a few rough spots, but for the most part it shines and gives the listener a heck of a good folk album.

The music on the CD is great. Dekle has a good voice, even if it may take a while to get used to its slight rough edge. Then you have the musicians: Larry Beaird (acoustic guitar and banjo), David Hungate (upright bass), Glen Duncan (fiddle and mandolin), Mike Johnson (dobro, lap guitar, pedal-bro), Paul Scholten (snare, shaker, fish, CDX scrap plywood, handbone, tambourine, Salvation Army parade drum, claps, sock cymbal, human thigh, shirt rubs), Jelly Roll Johnson (harmonica) and joining on backup vocals are John Wesley Ryles and Byron Hill.

The main rough spot is "She's Worth Fighting For," and even though the story is mostly interesting, it still rubs me partly the wrong way. It lands in the hard-to-explain area of well-crafted songs that I just don't like. I guess it is partly the lyrics and partly how it sounds ... it just doesn't quite work for me. The spoken lines near the end of the song are definitely lines I could live without. Not quite sure what to make of the one person calling out "Sasquatch" at the beginning of "You Wouldn't Be My First Mistake," but that one is slowly growing on me. It is a nice light note, even if I don't know the full joke behind it.

But once you get to "You Wouldn't Be My First Mistake" the song pulls you in and the rest of the songs keep hold of you. I won't go into every song on the album, but will highlight some of the more intriguing fare that will cross your plate.

The next stop has to be "Road Kill Cafˇ," and the name of the song gives you an idea what to expect. It is a delightfully fun, quirky song. Continuing on we get to "Jackson's Radiator Shop," the story of a small businessman who made his dreams come true.

Then there is "Forgive This Fool," which works, although my mind keeps thinking that it should not. Part of me insists that when the lyrics are an apology the song should not sound like an upbeat, up-tempo love song. The rest of me says that the tune is catchy, so there. (Yes, I know, it's not a highly reasoned argument, but that part of me is also ignoring sarcasm.)

Any case, this is one fine CD. Take the time to give it a spin and enjoy.

[ by Paul de Bruijn ]