Album Review

Jason Wilber - Lost In Your Hometown

Jason Wilber - Lost In Your Hometown

Jason Wilber has played lead guitar for some notable songwriters, John Prine and Hal Ketchum among them. His solo debut leaves one wondering why he waited so long to venture out on his own, as it reveals his true talent isn't his guitar playing, but rather his insightful songwriting and soothing vocals. Ten songs plus a not-half-bad hidden track, Lost In Your Hometown ranges from moody ballads to up-tempo country rock pierced with pop hooks. The music, while pleasant, isn't what gives these tunes their strength. That comes from Wilber's lyrics, as he pours out feelings of alienation and heartache with a knowing sense of despair and wonder. The title track is the best case in point, as he sings, "The street signs pass you by in bleary comic prose/The people you ask directions of, they speak in guarded tones." And he gets no relief from affairs of the heart as he mourns over a failed relationship in "More Alone Than Before": "Now I'm humming America the Beautiful/And the Old Glory she lights up the room/Under the color bars the TV says good night/Now it's a long wait for the early cartoons." Wilber's voice is velvety, recalling Chris Isaak in the crooning of "Walking In The Church", and dragging you down into the gloom of the Death-of-a-Salesmanesque "Apologies." The songs are not all blackness. There's the rocking opener "I Fell In Line", the jugband-tinged stomp "If I Owned A Liquor Store" ("...I'd be dead inside a year... ), and the somehow cheerful "Evelyn (Leave Your Door Unlocked Tonight)", in which he begs for a one-night stand from an ex. Along with guitars and vocals, Wilber plays keyboards. Bassist Todd Smith adds harmonies. The rest of the album's musicians total three drummers, all of them ranging from merely adequate to, at times, distracting. A tight band behind Wilber's able writing, and he'll be one to watch.