Bob Delevante | Columbus and the Colossal Mistake (Relay)

Considerable artistry informs that focus—no moon/June/spoon loopiness here. On the title track, for instance, Delevante invokes a grandiose metaphor to characterize his subject, but then leavens the grandiosity with humor.

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A preeminent pleasure of reviewing music, oddly enough, involves being blindsided, being taken unawares, aesthetically ambushed by a CD plucked more or less at random from a jumble of jewel boxes or delivered, unsolicited, in the daily mail. Bob Delevante’s Columbus and the Colossal Mistake—conveyed to its intended recipient against all odds by the U.S.P.S.—provides just such pleasure in spades.

In addition to making music, Delevante works as a graphic designer and photographer, according to the press release accompanying this offering from Relay Records, whose stylish package includes five mock snapshots by him. Those snapshots suggest a stunning grasp of chiaroscuro, making the amatory focus of most of the CD’s 13 tracks seem apt indeed. What, after all, mixes light and shadow more than love?

Considerable artistry informs that focus—no moon/June/spoon loopiness here. On the title track, for instance, Delevante invokes a grandiose metaphor to characterize his subject, but then leavens the grandiosity with humor. Similarly, of the subject of “Circles Round Me,” he rasps, “She dances like an angel/She charges like a Sherman tank.” (One can’t help but suspect it would take a special sort of girl to go all hearts-and-flowers over such a description.) Elsewhere, masterly nuance prevails, as with the blurring of past and present on “An Old Picture of You”; the final conflation of the geographic and the romantic on “Venice Is Sinking,” which also features a mean blues guitar and accents from a distant buoy tolling; and the quasi–William Carlos Williams vibe of “Paint My House.” Columbus and the Colossal Mistake would rank as a noteworthy piece of Americana even without its two closing “additional tracks,” Delevante’s glorious interpretation of the Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” and a gonzo remix of his own “Texarkana State of Mind” that spotlights the Jew’s harp.

 


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