Delusions of Adequacy
Delusions of Adequacy (7/25/05) With a mix of acoustic and subtle electric guitars, New Jersey’s Lanky (the pseudonym of Frank Stabile, not a band name) has assembled some catchy tunes on Odd Hour Work Week. It’s his second full-length release, and his previous album and EP have already won him some admiration and kudos. As I listened to Odd Hour Work Week, I could easily imagine almost all of these songs being played on the radio. Lanky has a smooth voice and a knack for keeping his songs fairly short and to-the-point. What the album lacks in innovation, it makes up for with a certain charm and honesty. And lyrically, Lanky knows how to keep things interesting – even if it means reverting to Dr. Phil references to do so. As is the case with most other solo artists, Lanky has backed himself with a contingent of able players. The production befits the music, capturing especially the crisp and clean tones of Lanky’s acoustic guitar. Most of the songs feature both acoustic and electric guitar, but often it’s the acoustic that leads the way. “Falling Hard for the Girl,” as an example, anchors itself around the strummed acoustic but makes good use of the electric to provide a rich background during the chorus. “Crashing the Car is Learning to Drive,” the second track, begins with rimshots and vocals up front. It has the feel of early Elvis Costello, at least until the harmonica comes in and takes us to the chorus. Though it’s the longest song on Odd Hour, Lanky doesn’t wear out the listener with tired repetition. That pitfall is left to other solo artists who, convinced of their own genius, can’t help but beat you over the head with that one killer riff or melody that means so much to them. That said, it takes a few listens before the songs stand out from one another. It’s not so much that Lanky repeats himself as it is that these songs have a similar sound and vibe to them. I think it’s safe to say that if you like any of these songs, you’re likely to enjoy all of them, as Lanky doesn’t stray far enough from his approach to alienate his audience. “Almost Right Where I Want to Be” is a really quiet and personal track that shows off Lanky’s talent for connecting with the listener. In a voice that’s barely raised above a whisper, he sounds like he’s talking right to you. In the background you have some acoustic and electric guitar notes, as well as some radical (for this album, anyway) guitar sounds and shuffling drums. It’s a stripped-down counterpoint to the bright-sounding pop leanings of the other material on Odd Hour. And it’s proof that Lanky can hold his own against the bigger names working this same terrain. – David Smith