"Red Cloud" by Sterling Witt from Sea Things (Bright Orange Records):
We're sure that Kansas City singer-songwriter and artist Sterling Witt is a nice guy, one of those whimsical artistic types who has an eye for interesting junk and gives his friends homemade gifts on random occasions. In fact, we'd rather old Sterling had sent us a nifty little homespun tchotchke like what appears in the artwork for his latest CD, Sea Things, rather than the CD itself. This home-recorded, 13-track album sounds like the product of a songwriter who has been humored too much by friends, much in the way one might hang up an ugly painting by an artist friend only when that friend is coming for a visit. In his songs, which are mostly about disappointed love, Witt seems to be going for a Jonathan Richman affectation of simplicity, but he crams about four times as many words into each song, piling up thought after thought with no natural sense of melody or economy, as though he's reading from his journal in a "singing voice." That voice sounds like Beck's but has an unpleasant heave to it, as if Witt might begin vomiting sometime while singing especially when he's trying to sound bluesy. Sterling, spare your friends and stick to the tchotchkes.