John Whitaker So Foul And Fair A Day

With so many singer-songwriters kicking around, there has to be something pretty unique about an individual to make them stand out from the crowd. Not surprisingly, that doesn't happen very often and it doesn't happen with Kentucky's John Whitaker. Whitaker's debut album, So Foul And Fair A Day, finds him working with a full band for the first time, and while that does help to give the record a bigger sound, it takes him further away from his folk roots. That greater distance appears to have lessened the immediate effect of the songs, because they are hidden behind more involved production. Although he lists his heroes as the likes of Billy Bragg, Paul Westerberg and John Prine, there are times when So Foul And Fair A Day reminds me of flat, pseudo-alternative American rock, and I'm pretty sure that that can't be a good thing. He's at his best when he traverses into alt-country territory but, unfortunately, that makes up but a small part of the album. There's definitely something brewing in Whitaker's musical future, but you might be best advised to wait for a few more years until he makes the recording that realises his potential. (Independent)