Kent McDaniel,
About Time
(Kriya, 2000)

When an artist displays taste and talent for various styles of music, it's an experiment that either works or fails miserably. About Time, for some reason, comes fairly close to straddling that fine line on the favorable side. The problem is that there are great tracks that are counterbalanced by bad and mediocre tracks. After all is said and done, it comes off as a fairly mediocre album displaying a great deal of talent.

With a voice reminiscent of the Talking Head's David Bryne and some very talented fingers on the guitar, McDaniel takes us through various styles -- from blues to laid-back southern rock to acoustic folk. When he keeps the music simple, the album shines. "Push Cart Annie" is a perfect example -- an upbeat track that mixes harmonica, drum, bass and guitar extremely well. It's got one of those great beats that will find you tapping your foot along. In fact, the gems on this album are the songs where McDaniel keeps a fast and upbeat rhythm, such as "The News" and "You Ain't (Gonna Change Me). He keeps the success going with some classic country guitar work on "I'll Always Do."

He has trouble bringing his voice down for slow songs like "Something Good," "Time is a Blue Sky" and "A Sunny Day." The big problem tends to be trainwrecks of musical styles colliding, such as "The Time Waited," where the sounds of the many accompanying instruments clash together in a hodgepodge of noise.

For a first major release, About Time is a good learning experience for McDaniel. If he can take the greatness of this CD and reproduce it on his next release, his sophomore effort I think will be a real winner. While mixing styles and instrumentations may be great for live shows (and I'm sure those are a blast), it's a sense that doesn't translate well to CD format. If you're looking to catch of glimpse of what will be a future star in the acoustic folk or blues scene, I would definately recommend picking this CD up, and then trying to catch a live show.

[ by Timothy Keene ]
Rambles: 20 August 2001