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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Artist: Joe Zelek
Label: Franklin Recording Co.
Time: 10 tracks/41:12 min.
Acoustic guitar-driven rock blends with folk and especially country influences on Joe Zelek’s sophomore release Thousand Ways. Although it is at times excellent, the disk is often much like other singer/songwriters with rock, folk, and country influences. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with the album--in fact, much of it is quite good--but it tends to feel a bit like it’s treading over a well-worn path.
Truthfully, it’s possible that it’s my aversion to country music that leaves me wishing for something more. The songs that play down the strong country influences are in my opinion more creative and enjoyable. The strength of the album lies in tracks like “Thousand Ways,” “Go Easy,” and “Evening Song.” “Inside Room,” the best song of the project, skillfully evokes warmth and sadness at the same time. “Monday” mixes great lyrics (“I’m still trying to find a way/To get through a Monday/Without any new holes in the wall”), guitar and a strong beat to create a song that’s sure to stick in your head (in a good way).
Zelek shows a lot of promise, especially when he stretches himself to explore beyond the familiar paths of other singer/songwriters. Those who thoroughly enjoy country music will probably appreciate Thousand Ways more than I did, but it still has a lot going for it.
Ben Cauldwerse (10/20/04)