Blake Rainey – Appetizer Sickness (CD)

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 “Appetizer Sickness” 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 “field in PA” and “like leaves” doesn’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 doesn’t leave the listener cold, having help given eir by “The Rye Whiskey Gang”.

The only time on “Appetizer Sickness” where the aforementioned Spartan atmosphere works for Blake is “SF”, where the high registers of Blake’s voice work well with the tinny chords of the guitar. Blake falls momentarily into a rut with the schmaltzy “Feelings Go South”, and only can pull eirself out during the very simplistic “How Many Times”. This is Blake at eir’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 Blake’s voice eirself.

“Appetizer Blues”, the last actual lyric-enhanced song on “Appetizer Sickness”, 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 eir’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 – Appetizer Sickness / 13 Tracks / 2004 Two Sheds Music / http://www.twoshedsmusic.com / http://www.canarypromo.com / Reviewed 19 July 2004

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