Album: The XRay Eyes: Composite Sketches
Street Date: December 1, 2004
Reviewed by: Kevin
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Seattle based trio called The XRay Eyes are fronted by singer/songwriter David Lavin who takes the listener on a journey through a modern jazz oriented sound while touching on aspects of bluegrass, folk, blues, and acoustic guitar ballads.
1. Wish I Were Blind - The album opens with a solo acoustic guitar song. Although there are aspects of the song I enjoy, I feel it's a weak opener for the album, placing it lower in the tracklist and opening with a full band track would have given it a better start. The title of the album comes from a lyric in this song. "Like composite sketches of criminals / Memory's ink, from prejudice drawn / Reflects what's been seen and what's easy to think / and already gone". My favorite part of the song is where the cynical side comes through when he lists aspects of our society and calls us "good little drones".
2. Prayer - The style is very Dylanesque until the bridges where the electric guitar gets a chance to be highlighted. The last lyric of the song really struck me, "I know I'm not alone when I wonder, can you have a king and yet be free".
3. Open Open Still - This track comes off as quite eclectic. But that also makes it quite enjoyable. At the end of the song as the lyrics turn towards death, there is a brief silence and a soft final verse. It's a technique that pulls you even deeper into the song.
4. Always Chasin' Easy - This is my favorite track on the album! The chorus hook was really well written, and lyrically the entire song just has a very familiar feel to it because it's taken from situations in life that we all face at one time or another.
5. Mire' - This song caught me off guard. It's a look at the life of the wrong girl that "every boy in town" is attracted to. So when every boy in town hears this song, they'll know exactly the type of girl Mire' is.
6. Stale Crumbs - This is a slow piano/vocal track. Short and not a whole lot of production, but still a good song in it's own right.
7. Time To Retire - The vocals fell short on this. There were other elements added in like a saxaphone, but the flow of the song did not feel natural and overall the song just doesn't work.
8. Wedding Samba - This instrumental piece does have the feel of something you might hear at a wedding reception. The saxaphone is used well in this track, all the instruments used get a chance to highlight what they can do.
Overall: Composite Sketches is an enjoyable album yet there are areas that don't entirely mesh. On lyrics alone I really liked "Miré" the best. But it was "Always Chasin' Easy" that had it all. The strength of many tracks are the lyrical base, most are short stories that take the listener to a place and time. However the lyrics are delivered by a voice that strangely feels out of place most of the time. The music backing up most of the tracks are quite well done. Even when it was only piano/vocal, it set the correct mood for the song.
For more information see: www.herculesrecords.net/xrayeyes/
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