If not quite as forceful as its title might suggest, Ammunition, the fourth album from singer-songwriter Tim Easton, in its best moments makes a claim that Easton is handily the best, most engaging variation of the modern troubadour to come along in a good long while. With a better ear for melody than Josh Rouse and without the punchworthy persona of Ryan Adams, Easton showcases more than enough pure talent to reinvigorate the alt-country genre that, by this point, has churned out entirely too many middling, soundalike acts. Though his first three efforts impressed plenty of noteworthy people (both Lucinda Williams and Tift Merritt contribute harmony vocals here, and Gary Louris produced three of the album’s 13 tracks), what Easton hadn’t yet done was release an album with the consistency of Ammunition. With the exception of the preaching-to-the-choir lament of “J.P.M.F.Y.F.” (that’s “Jesus, Protect Me From Your Followers”), there’s not an obvious weak spot on the album, and from the plaintive folk-rock of “Oh People” to the blues-inflected “C-Dub,” Easton avoids the often monotonous production trappings that bog down similar albums. Approaching issues of political disaffect and emotional displacement with insight and grace, Easton recorded Ammunition over two years spent wandering the nation and ended up with an album that’s perhaps most accurately described as “Americana” in the best possible sense of the word. More subtle and ultimately more rewarding than the simultaneously released albums from Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen, Ammunition may not be a call-to-arms, but its introspective, sturdy songcraft promises to endure.
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