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MUSIC REVIEWS: Alanis Morissette, Rayland Baxter
There is a restlessness to his lyrics. “It don’t matter where, just get me outta here,” goes one line. “Don’t matter where I go, don’t matter what I see; I ain’t never gonna find the woman for me,” goes another. Other songs are filled with fast-moving images of mountainsides, trees and owls, as though Mr. Baxter cataloged them while driving across the American heartland, bound for no particular place.
On “Olivia,” he attempts to win back the girl he once pushed away. It’s an acoustic song at heart, driven forward by finger-plucked guitar chords and homespun melodies, but Mr. Baxter ornaments the tune with all the smart, tasteful savvy of someone who grew up with one of the greatest sidemen in Americana music. Background vocals sweeten the chorus, and a handheld shaker drives the beat forward. When it comes time for a guitar solo, Mr. Baxter whistles the line instead, sweeping his way around each note like his father’s pedal steel.
The loudest song is saved for last. “Willow” is a psychedelic rocker built around a Middle Eastern scale, and it trades Mr. Baxter’s roots-rock influences for something that is almost reminiscent of Led Zeppelin. It’s a surprise ending, one final curveball to close out an album that never delivers what you would expect, but always delivers.
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