Mark Eitzel Music For Courage & Confidence

Mark Eitzel's musical career, both as the leader of American Music Club and as a solo artist, has been blessed with the kind of critical acclaim that most artists would kill for. In most people's eyes, he has yet to put a foot wrong, although his latest project, Music For Courage & Confidence, indicates that he is far from unimpeachable. The ten songs here are all cover versions, ranging from jazz standards ("I'll Be Seeing You") to more bizarre choices, such as Anne Murray's timeless "Snowbird." But despite the wide selection of material, every song ends up sounding like Mark Eitzel, because of his unmistakable voice. Some songs survive this Eitzel-isation with hardly an audible difference, such as "Help Me Make It Through The Night," while others are changed so radically that they are barely recognisable. The prime example of the latter category is Culture Club's "Do You Really Want To Hurt Me‚" which is transformed into a tedious dirge that is a chore to listen to. It appears that the music for all the songs was recorded back in 1998, and it took Eitzel three years before recording the vocals, which is a possible sign that other people weren't fully convinced of the project's merits even back then. On the whole, Music For Courage & Confidence is a real mixed bag, and even Eitzel's biggest fans might want to give this one a miss. (New West)