Monday, October 30, 2017

Elliot Schneider - Don't Put All Your Eggs in One Basketcase (2017)

Written by Mike Yoder, posted by blog admin

Elliot Schneider took the scenic route to making memorable music nearly two decades into the 21st century, but you finish Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basketcase believing he wouldn’t have had it any other way. The release is accompanied by some supplementary material intended, one would guess, to place Schneider’s life experience and musical education in the proper perspective and they are worthwhile listens, but the real meat on this release is the eleven songs constituting his latest studio album. These are tracks filled with sustained flashes of poetry, a firm command over a variety of rock and roll styles, and an assured vocal presence that deepens the emotional and occasional comedic aspects of the album. This is Schneider’s fourth solo album and finds his own dramatic and wildly improbable personal story evolving with all the unpredictable twists we discover in his music and, particularly, wordplay.

He announces the album’s excellence with tangible fanfare on the opening song “The Moon Has Flown Away”. There’s a quasi post-apocalyptic air to the song that he, thankfully, never overemphasizes and the pleasing musical accompaniment and likable vocals temper the lyrical darkness just enough without ever neutering it. “Diehard Killjoy” and “Lost on the Radio” take on a traditional rock and roll pose to two distinctly different ends – the former exhibits some of Schneider’s capacity for slightly cynical sense of humor while the other engages him in a bit of nostalgic reflection without ever risking sentimentality. His vocal on “Diehard Killjoy” manages to invoke both the light comedic elements and the speaker’s obvious disdain for the subject. “Are We Only Dinosaurs?” serves up some more of his quirky, distinctive sense of humor, this time shorn of the aforementioned song’s cynical bite. It has a nice uptempo thrust that never gets carried away with itself and some especially tasteful guitar work.

The big, ringing guitar chords and warm multi-part harmonies of “In a Sense Innocence” gives a pleasing veneer to another deceptively simple musical arrangement and lyric. The effortlessness behind an effort like this is totally beguiling – the track sounds like it sprang full borne from Schneider’s imagination, but we can only imagine that this is one of the more satisfying “tricks” on an album that makes everything sound off the cuff and utterly natural. He reverts to a classic rock stance once again for the track “Overruling Neo-Fascists”, but it’s spiked with an unexpected amount of fist waving attitude that Schneider hits just the right note with. Multi-part vocal harmonies play a key role once again on the song “First Day of Summer” and the folksy qualities of the performance and musical arrangement slot quite nicely near the album’s end. Another of the indisputable jewels on Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basketcase comes with the finale “I Just Don’t Really Know If You Exist”, an improbably titled stab, once again, in a folksy direction, but the lyrical content is obviously a little more unsettled. Schneider contrasts the slightly askew lyrical perspective with a straight forward and rather beautiful vocal performance. It is a shame we are not discussing this album in a scenario where Schneider has enjoyed a long and visible career in the music business and celebrating his fifteenth album release or more, but sometimes great talents are heard when it’s time to hear them. Elliot Schneider’s path, thankfully, led him back to recording music again and we are better for it.

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