Album Review

Bob Schneider - I'm Good Now

Bob Schneider - I'm Good Now

Austin "It" boy Bob Schneider's career to date has taken him from the indies to mega-major Universal Records (which re-released Schneider's hugely popular 2001 album Lonelyland) and back again to a smaller label. Vanguard's probably the right fit for his eclectic vision, and in fact I'm Good Now goes beyond eclectic. Schizophrenic, possibly; all over the map, most definitely. For the first half of the album, Schneider can do no wrong. The folk-jazz opening track "Come With Me Tonight" is Springsteenian evocative-romantic, Schneider's narrator observing quirky characters adrift on a Saturday night even as he leans in with his own pitch: "Hey hey my my/You're as pretty as the big blue sky." "Medicine" shimmers and jangles so sweetly you don't mind lines such as "You got the cure for what's ailing me/Only your sweet love can set me free" (a great melody can forgive a lyric clichA). And the talking-blues title track -- about a self-styled desperado who makes his choices, takes his chances, and pays the deadly price -- is outrageously rockin' good fun. Midway into the set, though, a series of stylistic experiments commences that's like a succession of slaps to the face. In short order: a screeching nu-metallish riff-rocker, an overwrought U2-esque anthem, a silly bit of Spin Doctorish fluff, and an atmospheric foray into pop-electronica. The album recovers at the end -- "Getting Better", about reclaiming/almost-holding-onto hope, is luminous with strings -- but by then, even the most patient listener's endurance has been sorely, and possibly fatally, tested.