Good Sad News – Doug Collins and the Receptionists (reviewed by T. Bebedor)

Doug Collins has been described as a “man out of time” and, after listening to his ten-track album ‘Good Sad News’ it’s pretty clear what that means. Collins’ songs evoke the musical era of the jukebox, prom nights and broken-hearted teenage girls alone at home crying over their first love while sad songs play on their record players.

But don’t be fooled by descriptions, these aren’t badly recorded songs set to scratchy vinyl that sound dated or tired on your cd player, these are songs written and recorded in a homage to those times when records were the soundtrack to your life and each three-minute song was an accompaniment to a moment or emotion. This is the stuff that ruled the airways of the local country-rock-pop radio station, songs that would have men nodding in agreement and women crying into their bathroom mirror, songs of lost love, found (and then lost) love, unrequited love and escapism.

The music is produced perfectly, there is room to breathe, to hear the small nuances of the individual instruments and to appreciate a sound lovingly built to Collins to sing over, his voice is clear and straight acting like a knowing onlooker and passing on his findings to the audience. ‘Little House (Built For Two)’ puts a nice spin on the story of a couple working on getting a house in preparation of their life together and then finding out it isn’t what they wanted and that little house becomes a noose around their necks and ballad ‘I Saw You Dancing’ is a heart-breaking turn crying out for a prom night slow dance.

His writing is varied enough to suggest he isn’t a one trick pony with a good idea that gets regurgitated over and over, we go from ballad to up-tempo rock n roll to a Mexican themed ‘Hey Mary’ and The Receptionists (of Billy Dankert on drums and Charlie Varley on bass) create a bigger sound than is expected from two musicians, the rhythm section is tight and give it the oomph that is needed but they also have the skill to cool it down when required.

This vintage tinged music isn’t for everyone of course and if it’s not for you, walk on by, but if you like the occasional look back and you put song writing before catchy hooks (although they are a few earworms to be had) and production gimmicks, give it a listen

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