The great country and folk songwriters who were touched by Houston or touched it -- Mickey Newbury, Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, Eric Taylor -- had a blue, dark side that kept returning to the messiest of messes. Love, hate, indifference -- whatever the subject -- the job was to write and sing something that caused a raw nerve to twitch. Many of their songs contained an approach-with-caution edge, and even the love songs made us gasp at their elegance of expression.
This never happens with Dan Crump's debut, Truth Is.
Truth is, Crump stumbles like a blind-drunk wino in that tricky, unmapped literary alley between pith and banality, between insightful storytelling and mushy feel-good generality. Listen to Truth Is enough, and you'll discover the truth is that not even studio aces like Lloyd Maines can adequately disguise sophomoric lines like "the heart in my chest aches" or "I've got feelings to my core." Much of the album sounds like it was written while munching a box of Goldfish during an episode of Dr. Phil.
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Crump tries for something akin to Bruce Robison or Max Stalling, but he doesn't have the voice or the miles under his belt to even get close. By the time producer Ernie Wells processes songs like "Dream On" and "I'm Done," they're like ear tofu -- light and wholesome, wonderful in the digestive tract, but oatmeal-bland. This is Texas Music Lite, what elevator rides and dentists' offices will sound like ten years from now.