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The Gunshy
No Man's Blues
Sleep Recordings

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."

-Ewan Wadharmi

Track listing:

01. Reason to Retreat
02. I Will Die Alone
03. Congratulations
04. Dead Ends
05. Seven Weeks
06. Stories
07. Breakin' Some Bad Habits
08. Mistaken
09. Your Favorite Dylan Song
10. No Man's Blues

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