Andy Scheinman,
Make Amends
(Tangible Music, 1999)

When I first got this album, I thought I was looking at the work of Andy Dick from NBC's popular series News Radio, but I had seen Andy Dick perform on MTV and he is very far from being Andy Scheinman -- although they look alike enough to be twins. It is difficult for me to believe that Andy Dick feels the songs he is singing. I think he is just performing them; he is, after all, an actor.

But from the first listen, it is clear that Andy Scheinman's songs come straight out of his life. Scheinman's newest album, Make Amends, contains 13 great, new songs. Backed by a solid combo of Nashville denizens, it is produced by Tommy Spurlock (also producer for Dave Olney and Chip Taylor), who contributes guitars, mandolins, pedal steel, dobro, lap steel and bass to the musical mix.

Scheinman's music has a solid roots-country basis, and the tunes revolve around his lyrical skills. The music is as professional sounding as one expects from a Nashville band and supports his short, snappy songs without drowning them.

Scheinman's songs deal with life on the highway, the traveler lying awake in his motel bed, lonely street corners and fading memories. He has a way of making his characters communicate to you through a briefly sketched picture of moments plucked from their days -- a dusty window sill, an unmade bed, a coffee cup with nothing but dregs and maybe a lipstick-smeared cigarette butt drowning in the murky liquid. You feel like you are inside these character's lives looking around and able to touch the objects you see.

Scheinman deals with failed relationships and the minefield that communication can become ("Conversation," "I'm Doin' Fine," "Blue in the Face") and the curves that life can throw us ("What's The Use of Talking," "Just Because") among other themes. He is a good storyteller, able to put the little details into each song that paint a convincing picture, and never going for the cheap rhyme, just to fill out a line.

Let me mention that this CD is worth buying for the cover art alone. The painting by Andy's sister, Nancy Scheinman, is a beautiful piece of work. I think that the two photos of Andy and a rooster on the inside of the front insert do a better job of conveying the feel of the album, but who cares? Regardless of the immediate relevancy of Nancy's painting, I am sure that the spirit and feeling in her work are closely related to other things in Andy's life that help make him the person who wrote these songs. Songs you owe it to yourself to listen to.

[ by Jan Marica ]

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