Back in June, Bob Schneider teased Denton with a few tracks from his latest album on Kirtland Records, Burden of Proof.
He comes back on Friday, and this time the Austin artist might spend a little more stage time on the album.
There’s something so Texas about Schneider’s record. It’s a humble but metropolitan ode to everyday life lived well and with a zeal that’s familiar, but hard to pin down.
There’s a peep of country in tracks like “Swimming in the Sea” and whole lot of Tom Petty in every song. (Except maybe for “The Effect,” which takes lyrics Peter, Paul and Mary would sing today, but only if they gave the hand claps and pop-a-pop guitar phrases to Paul Simon in his Graceland era.)
What does that mean, exactly? Natural harmonies that neither challenge nor shortchange Schneider’s considerable vocal talent; music that has a sort of devil-may-care attitude to the soulful stuff he’s revealing; and rock-pop hooks that brand his sound on the part of your brain that controls all halfway-unconscious, must-hum-later riffs.
And by metropolitan, can we talk about the smart strings used throughout? Strings can smother good intentions with schmaltz, or they can guide your ears to a small bit of musical business that would otherwise get lost under the melody line. The keys and strings make for a mighty fine meeting in “Please Ask for Help,” with all the ingredients that made the Carpenters matter and a few that may make one miss Matthew Sweet’s ear for radio-ready choruses and bridges. “The White Moon” lets the strings lead, with Schneider’s vocals following (and sounding like John Mayer).
Schneider has a bit of the poet in his soul, too. “Weed Out the Weak” sounds like it’s out to be a love song in a musical, but the words are an aching sleight of hand. The golden notes prop up a sad story worthy of Larry McMurtry: Only the strong survive the incendiary stuff that makes up relationships.
Except, he suggests, sometimes even the strong can’t bear up. “I made a promise I knew I could keep,” Schneider sings. “Buried my heart in a hole so deep/I’ve never been able to find it again./I saw the sun burst into flame, and all at once everything changed for the better./It seemed like it does in the dream.”
Elsewhere, “Tomorrow” — yes, from the musical Annie — shows just how much of a gem the song is, and why it’s memorable. True to form, though, the artist pairs it with a slow, sad pace. He loves tomorrow, it seems, because life can’t cut much deeper than it does today.
“John Lennon” disrupts the theme of the album with jazzy composition and unexpected Auto-Tune, which Schneider doesn’t need. But it’s the closest the record comes to suggesting some dance-floor grooving.
Schneider’s show starts at 9 p.m. Friday at Dan’s Silverleaf, 103 Industrial St. Tickets cost $25 for seats, or $20 for standing room. For tickets, visit www.danssilverleaf.com.
— Lucinda Breeding