Tightly focused on structures and relationships in various states of disrepair and how its numerous narrators choose to remedy their situations, Bob Delevante’s second solo album (he and brother Mike split up their critically hailed duo in 1998), Columbus And The Colossal Mistake also boasts a pretty nifty gimmick that few other singer-songwriters have attempted: the album includes a set of Delevante’s impressive black-and-white photography that perfectly matches the album’s aesthetic. The photos actually elevate the album, since the one real knock against Delevante’s mature, insightful compositions is that they often lack memorable imagery—from the 10 original songs, only the simile “She charges like a Sherman tank” from “Circles Round Me” really sticks. What Delevante does quite well, then, is capture complex emotional responses in extensive literary devices—the extended metaphor of “Venice Is Sinking” is especially inspired—that never draw attention to themselves at the expense of that emotional content. And while he may not rely on the wry wit of a John Hiatt or the political outrage of a Steve Earle, Delevante’s songs are more straightforwardly catchy than many of his contemporaries in alt-country/AAA, and the two bonus tracks, a cover of The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop” and a jawharp-driven remix of “Texarkana State Of Mind,” display a refreshing adventurousness. Armed with a strong pop sensibility and a gift for composing memorable melodies and even more memorable photographs, Delevante ensures that Columbus doesn’t get lost in the Americana genre that’s getting too crowded to classify as a niche market.
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