Bob Schneider

I'm Good Now (Vanguard)

Bob Schneider is lonely no more. That's because he's dead.

I'm Good Now, the title of the album Schneider released this week, refers not to getting healthy or becoming virtuous or resolving emotional conflict. It's about being dead, shaking free from this worrisome plane, crossing the clouds to the golden sunset and finding God in Italian shoes, singing the blues. God is Bob Schneider's friend. That's a given, right?

I'm Good Now: It's what they write on your tombstone. "Tell them to write it big and tall or not at all," Schneider sings on the title cut. (Even so, he's expected to arrive alive at two local gigs this Saturday.)

I'm Good Now is Schneider's follow-up to 2001's Lonelyland, which marked his singer-songwriter career swivel; before that, he'd been front man for a string of soul-stirring, funk-pounding, party-rockin', grunge-roiling Austin outfits such as Joe Rockhead, the Spanks, the Scabs and Ugly Americans.

Left to his own devices, he delivers self-absorbed if not self-realized music. It's not easy being me-me-me all the time, to reside behind the mirror -- except that you get instant one-act plays, lots of little melodramas, neat confessionals and surrenders of the heart, which Schneider parlays into divine restlessness. "I've got a long way to go before I get back home," he reports in "A Long Way to Get," and in the process he finds and loses love, creates and destroys his dream world, grabs hold and slips away, runs and hides and generally goes off in search of the unattainable.

Moving, always moving -- the Michigan-born, Germany-raised, Austin-based songman is constantly racing on a spinning globe of desire, always returning to the origin of his longing. These emotional loops coil around ingrown music -- Schneider handles vocals, keyboards, bass, percussion and programming -- that teeters but never falls apart. It's music at once impulsive and controlled, primal and washed-of-sins pure, reflective and hysterical, buffered but never resolved by a perfect guitar lick or a sublime turnaround.

It's all quite seductive, songs delivered with needle-sharp doses of lovely temptations, songs that beg your company -- until it's time for the singer to run away. Follow at your peril.

 
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