Chris Garneau Music for Tourists

Chris Garneau’s debut release should be awful — for starters, the artist is a sensitive American singer-songwriter, presumably in his 20s. The album includes an Elliott Smith cover as a hidden track (no disrespect, but come on), and, if you can believe this, was produced by Duncan Sheik (remember that guy? He was basically to Elliott Smith what Skeet Ulrich was to Ethan Hawke). It’s easy to identify the cultural dregs that went into the making of this album, but it’s equally apparent that Garneau is actually a good songwriter. Sure his Tori Amos phrasing and occasional sub-Jeff Buckley tonsil antics can be embarrassing, but at least his voice is subtle for the most part — attention is directed more towards his piano compositions, which is a good thing. His music is tastefully commercial — think young adult contemporary — with some indication that Garneau has a creative side. From time to time he uses a noir streak to accentuate his music, and he adds accordion and violin embellishments to his bare-bones piano melodies with artistic flare. Music for Tourists isn’t a masterpiece, but Garneau has talent and decorum on his side. (Absolutely Kosher)