Starting out with the same type of singer-songwriter vibe that numerous bands from Matthew West to The Majestic Twelve have, Blake Rainey goes through â€œAppetizer Sicknessâ€ with the same earthy tone that Brandon Patton was not able to completely tame. However, while Brandon tries to oversaturate the disc with a number of different instruments, Blake goes the other route and creates a Spartan atmosphere that really is not hospitable to anyone but the most serious of fans. Moving through the title track to â€œfield in PAâ€ and â€œlike leavesâ€ doesnâ€™t help this musical attitude, and garners an additional problem in that the tracks are too similar, the guitar lines too like the ones in the previous song, and the soft-spoken Blake repeating eirself just too often. It is only over a third through the disc that Blake finally snaps the spell of cold, depressing and slow-tempoed acoustic, alternative rock tracks and has something a slight bit more hopeful (Cold Sunday Blues). It is on Cold Sunday Blues that the backdrop is adorned with enough in the way of instrumentation that Blake doesnâ€™t leave the listener cold, having help given eir by â€œThe Rye Whiskey Gangâ€.
The only time on â€œAppetizer Sicknessâ€ where the aforementioned Spartan atmosphere works for Blake is â€œSFâ€, where the high registers of Blakeâ€™s voice work well with the tinny chords of the guitar. Blake falls momentarily into a rut with the schmaltzy â€œFeelings Go Southâ€, and only can pull eirself out during the very simplistic â€œHow Many Timesâ€. This is Blake at eirâ€™s most raw, with just a strummed guitar, an accordion and a cello; not for bland ornamentation, these two ancillary instruments convey at least as much emotion as Blakeâ€™s voice eirself.
â€œAppetizer Bluesâ€, the last actual lyric-enhanced song on â€œAppetizer Sicknessâ€, is a high note for Rainey. Somewhat jangly, the track is reminiscent of Dave Matthews, on those off moments when ey (Dave) is on the verge of being listenable. While there are a googol of singers doing the exact same thing in terms of musical style, Blake is farther above the pack in the terms that ey actually has a feel recognizable, quicker-tempoed songs that could be recalled as being eirâ€™s own, instead of the twenty other college-aged kids that are playing at the same bar down in Atlanda on a regular basis.
Rating : 6.6/10
Top Tracks: Cold Sunday Blues, Feelings Go South
Blake Rainey â€“ Appetizer Sickness / 13 Tracks / 2004 Two Sheds Music / http://www.twoshedsmusic.com / http://www.canarypromo.com / Reviewed 19 July 2004