Michael Koppy Ashmore's Store

San Francisco, CA-based singer-songwriter Michael Koppy certainly doesn't lack ambition. This is demonstrated on Ashmore's Store, which is described as a folk-opera. One of the compositions, "All in the Timing: A Hollywood Romance in Seven Chapters," runs for over 27 minutes and is inspired by Pynchon and Godard, while the disc comes housed in a 112-page hardbound book, complete with lyrics, stories and photos of days spent growing up in Dixie. The title refers to a real-life store set in the black community of Tallahassee, one that exerted a big influence on Koppy. He's more of a storyteller than a smooth vocalist, and his slightly gruff delivery suits the role well. An impressive musical cast includes John McEuen (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band) and members of Riders in the Sky and Merle Haggard's Strangers. The frivolous "A Filled-Out Shirt" doesn't sit so well alongside the more poetic material on the rest of the album. And Koppy's lyrics are occasionally over-the-top ("this craft-service luau for pimps, frauds, hacks, pirates and oleaginous schmoozers"), but in a rather entertaining fashion. This is an intriguing effort. (Independent)