Gunshy Souls

Matt Arbogast is really working hard to bare his soul here and his insistence almost pays off. Arbogast’s strained, sandpaper voice makes Rich Terfry’s Tom Waits impression sound like Pat Boone by comparison. It’s endearing enough on "I am Not Who I Used to Be,” where it is surrounded by an approximation of Rick Rubin’s church organ production for Johnny Cash. Arbogast checks into Springsteen’s "Candy’s Room” for driving songs like "Last Songs” and "Souls,” the latter of which could also pass for an Arcade Fire workout fronted by a lifetime smoker on his last legs. Souls continues Arbogast’s penchant for dramatic, slow-building songs that clatter and crash in time to his impassioned vocals. His raspy whisper is not easy to engage with and his lyrics are loosely-knit at best but there is something special in there, damn it. (Latest Flame)