Album Review

Joe Grushecky - A Good Life

Joe Grushecky - A Good Life

One cannot help wanting to like Joe Grushecky. There's the agreeable simplicity of his major-chord rock, his day job teaching special-ed classes, his personal and sonic ties to Bruce Springsteen, and, of course, his name, a phonetic 16-lb. bowling ball that couldn't denote his working-class interests more if it were Punchclock McWastewaterplant. Such goodwill benefits Grushecky throughout A Good Life, a double-cheeseburger of a disc that enjoys a lack of pretensions so pervasive you almost wonder if it's being ironic. The title track and the Stones-ish "Nothing With You" veer close to Hootie territory, but Grushecky probably doesn't consider that a bad thing. "Is She The One" is a harmonica-kissed janglefest, "Party Tonight" is about...a party tonight, and there's a fathers-and-sons number called, well, "Father And Son". Speaking of fathers, longtime mentor Springsteen steps in with occasional help, most effectively on the opening rocker "Code Of Silence". Whenever the Boss comes around, Grushecky steps his game up, probably an innate psychological response. Still, with Springsteen gone ragtime, John Mellencamp gone political and Bon Jovi and Bob Seger gone country, there's a gaping hole in such meat-and-taters rock, and Grushecky's trying to fill it as earnestly as he, or probably anyone, can.