Garrett Sawyer,
(self-produced, 2001)

Though filled with a picturesque lyrical content and the occasional expressive acoustic guitar styling, Garrett SawyerÕs second CD Anthem is beleaguered by awkward phrasing and an overabundance of shoddy pseudo-instrumentation.

The California-based folksinger and guitarist approaches the craft of lyric writing, most notably in songs like "The Rain of an Insane Sky" and "Unresolved," more from the vein of prose than poetry, and he shies away from any discernible type of rhyme scheme, the age-old lifeblood of quality lyricists. Sawyer also embraces a predominantly introverted writing style, as shown in "Under the Picnic Table" and "Covenant Station (Fly Through the Sun)," serving only to alienate the listener from any underlying thought or message he attempts to project.

Regretfully, the shortcomings undermining the overall musical quality of Anthem are not limited to SawyerÕs awkward phrasing and frequently indiscernible story lines.

Sawyer, in the role of producer and co-arranger, chooses to employ a variety of pseudo-instrumentation in the guise of synthesized strings and horns throughout most of his recordings. When taking a leading role in the mix on tracks such as "IÕd Rather Be Cain," "Clock Shadows" and "Black Fire," this decision not only detracts from the arrangements but ingrains a low-budget, amateurish feel as well. Though perhaps not a seasoned producer or arranger, Sawyer does exhibit notable proficiency on the acoustic guitar parts of "The Lean Season" and "Those Shoes," which profess the subtle inklings of a traditional jazz background.

Despite being thwarted by a certain frailty in lyric-writing, arranging and producing, Garrett Sawyer does appear to have the capability, once refined, to compose his true anthem.

[ by Jeff Callahan ]
Rambles: 25 May 2002