I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody's Business - Dust'n Off The Ol' Guitar
Record Label: Self-released
Release Date: Sept. 10, 2010
Ace Enders is a tough nut to crack. Over the course of the last decade, he's released music at a brisk and efficient clip, but more often than not, the byproduct of said efficiency is ho-hum and mediocre releases, i.e When I Hit The Ground and this year's The World We Know. So it was with trepidation and hesitance that Dust'n Off The Ol' Guitar found its way across the review desk.
Hot damn, it's a good thing it did.
Opener "Growing Pains," is hushed, muted and supremely understated. There's an intimacy and coziness at work here that's almost impossible to attain. Hordes of singer-songwriters can attempt it but very few can pull it off. In less than 10 seconds, Enders achieves that and does so with aplomb. While something so spartan and simple is an odd choice for an introduction, it just might be one of the year's most indelible songs.
Fan favorite "Baby Blue," gets a gradual reworking that does little to diminish the song's inherent charm, but continues to bolster the claim that when it comes to earnest, acoustic simplicity, Enders knows the genre about as well as anybody. When he can hone in on emotion like this, there are few, if any, better at conveying the missteps and inferences of adolescence than him. Quite simply, when he wants to be, Ace Enders is a revelation.
"Body Like Mind," is another winsome and dusky composition. The feel of the song doesn't deviate from the prior two, but twinkling chimes and plinky keys help make Enders' guttural pleading that much more convincing. While it is indeed a strong song it doesn't stack up nearly as formidably as the prior two. "No Good at Saying Sorry," is a return to form and a sorrow-laden affair filled with self-defeat, yearning, crystalline lilting and arguably Enders' most complete vocal work to date.
Self-loathing returns in the placid ruminations of "When I Hit the Ground," a forlorn, tender and well-worn paean to a former flame. Almost serving as an extension of "Growing Pains," the song is tremendous. Anchored by falsetto, unabashed honesty and Enders' inherent vocal charm, there's not a single flaw in the song. It is also at this point that the claims from earlier in the disc are further cemented. Why is it that Enders is so afraid to tackle albums of this quality? Certainly the obvious argument is he enjoys challenging himself and forging other creative pursuits, but there are few if any singer-songwriters that can match this kind of sincerity and immediacy.
Fan-backed selection "Something That Produces Results," is much like "Body Like Mind," in that it doesn't do anything wrong it's just not nearly as crisp, inspired or timeless as the others. The twinkling chimes and keys return on this one, but sadly the song comes across as nothing more than filler.
Celestial twinkling returns on perennial favorite "I Want To Hear You Sad," which doesn't deviate too far from the original but is so beloved, who really even cares? In the end, the magnetism of "I Want To Hear You Sad," is simply this: How many of your favorite singer-songwriters from the late 90s are still releasing material and revamping those late 90s selections for inclusion on an album? Stop and think about it, there's probably not too many. And it is for that reason that Enders continues to draw throngs of fans. He knows his fan base, he understand it and he caters to it.
So even when he's offering up some rather forgettable albums (i.e. everything since 2005), he knows how to swing for the fences and still produce. And that very reason is why starving artists around the country should take notice. This is how it's done. And this is how it's done well.
ive loved everything hes released, its hard to compare ican make a mess and the early november. its two completely different musical genres, and i feel he does both of them such justice. good review though.