I'm a little torn because I like Tom Waits...a lot. And
Matt Arbogast's hobo-hacked voice sounds like Tom Waits...a
lot. So factoring in imitation and flattery and the like, let's
explore what separates The Gunshy from our favorite curmudgeon.
The arrangements are definitely not Wait's style. Instead of saloon
rags and carnival tents, there are expanses of furious and alternately
sparse guitar scrubbing joined by violin pregnancies that swell
to the point of bursting. There's the acoustic, naked rage of
"Seven Weeks," which leaves both singer and listener
vulnerable. "Stories" may not reveal its nature outright,
but beneath the e-bow and modern piano, it's a fast moving sea-chanty.
Many moods and styles are covered as Arbogast establishes his
musical proclivity, using top-notch musicians to this end.
So it's on to content. Mostly self-depreciating themes soaked
in gruff tenderness. "Dead Ends" describes his best-case
scenario, "You wouldn't mind the broken bed/or my left arm
wrapped around you/you'd watch me with one eye as you read "Leaves
Of Grass" again." No cliches, the personal lyrics paint
an identifiable picture vague enough to apply to yourself. And
well-crafted tales have any agenda laid out plain. Keeping in
mind that I find self-reproach a noble and admirable life-path,
and find sentiments like "I Will Die Alone" somehow
charming, I give The Gunshy four and a half out of a fifth of
Jack Daniels, but leave the bottle. Like Waits fronting Crime
And The City Solution. Arbogast's own summation? "It
would be fine to break the record/leave the show/It makes more
sense than what I've come to know/a little self-marketed in sorrow."
01. Reason to Retreat
02. I Will Die Alone
04. Dead Ends
05. Seven Weeks
07. Breakin' Some Bad Habits
09. Your Favorite Dylan Song
10. No Man's Blues
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