Fronted by former Twenty Mondays vocalist Ken Sheppard, Houston's Crash Comfort strives to make original and earnest rock on its debut CD. But while there are a number of bright spots in these 14 tracks, the overall impression is a faint one. Much of the material simply fails to make you reach for that "repeat play" button.
There is a heavy spiritual bent to many of the songs -- with words like "redeem," "pray" and "paradise" strewn throughout -- and the Almighty is the first person thanked in the liner notes. But like H-town's other spiritual rockers, King's X, Crash Comfort deftly sings on a higher level, without the trite mantras. "Get On with It" builds to a nice Chili Pepper-like level of funk, while two other strong tracks, "One Knee" and "Soul Drunk," could equally be about God -- or just a goddamn good-looking girl. On the latter tune, Sheppard's vocals and Larry Cooper's guitar have a particularly sincere ring, colored and buoyed by the rest of the group: Mando Perez (drums), Jeff Enlow (bass) and Lee Alexander (keyboards and lots more). Houston staple Carolyn Wonderland lends distinctive backing vocals to a number of tracks, and her presence is most welcome.
But the more reflective tracks, such as "Waiting" and "Lover Have I Been Wronged?" simply plod and meander, while the ska-tinged "Comfort" seems rote. And that's the main problem with Soul Drunk Lingering Day. Overall, there's just a lack of memorable melodies to inspire (at least this listener) on an emotional level. Like a patient who has flatlined, the music doesn't exactly bottom out -- but doesn't flicker to life either. Sheppard's vocals also hover too often in a limited, strained range, making matters run together. (A lyric sheet would have helped.)
Soul Drunk Lingering Day has a little rock, a little pop, a little ballad hell, it's a little of everything. But just like Emeril Lagasse could tell you, sometimes a little just ain't enough for a good meal. Bam!