Mercury Dime's Yep Roc release, Darkling, was a soaring, gospel-tinged masterpiece. So why doesn't Retallick's solo effort compare? Perhaps because this is a classic example of too much of a good thing. The CD unfortunately arrived without any liner notes, but it seems pretty obvious that Retallick is playing most, if not all, of the instruments. It's not that he isn't capable; he is. But the songs completely lack any sort of interplay or creative spark--except when it comes to the keyboards. Whereas Mercury Dime had Alan Wyrick's slide guitar, and Darryl Jones's pedal steel to balance and ground Retallick's soaring visions, Retallick alone floats higher and higher until those wax wings melt, and the music can't help but crash. It doesn't help that on some songs he appears to want to follow Joe Henry, a former alt-country genius, into smooth, electronic R&B territory, a misguided move at best for both artists.
The situation isn't completely hopeless, though. Retallick's playing and singing are flawless, and his lyrics as wistful and intelligent as ever. All he really needs is someone to steer when his head is in the clouds.