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Room to Dream
Artist: Tom Wehrle 
Label: Espy Records
Length: 13/58:47

Building on the success of his debut album, Something You Can't Find, and a couple of hundred live performances, Tom Wehrle has recorded a new disc entitled Room to Dream.  

Wehrle's bio cites such influences as Switchfoot, The Wallflowers, and John Mayer, but the modern pop contained on Room to Dream is much more in the vein of Andrew Peterson, Derek Webb, and most obviously, Elliott Smith.   If emo can be crossed with pop without the punk element, Wehrle has figured out the recipe.  In some ways, this disc recalls the album Basement Carnival by Wisconsin indie band Huddle.

"I Will Be Your Friend" would be the result if Elliott Smith had been able to conquer his demons and live life with a happy outlook.   "Without You" is a throwback to the heyday of the Moog Synthesizer, and has a 700's light prog feel to it.  "Far Away" plaintively looks at a friend's woes: "and my heart goes out to you/anyone who's felt this way too/I can't lie/I've been there too." 

"I've Fallen" deals with the fear of being real: "I feel like I never should have opened up."  Wehrle is currently performing mainly to the college crowd, and this album will certainly appeal to that niche.   He seems to have just the right emotional songwriting without drowning the lyrics in waves of noise a la Dashboard Confessional.  His songs would not be out of place on the WB or in an episode of _Scrubs_. 

Room to Dream avoids the sophomore slump, or the "rushed follow up" nature that hits so many artists.  It should aid Wehrle greatly in continuing to build a loyal fanbase.

Brian A. Smith
10 September 2005



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