Pawl: Guest House

Title: Guest House

Basics: Pawl may refer to:
•A common component of a ratchet 
•A part of the adjustable height locking mechanism of an extension ladder
•A part of a table saw splitter, a safety mechanism designed to prevent kickback
•Jazzed up cinematic pop from a fellow named Paul Krauss and his friends.

Best Song: "Once Again" is the fourth of six songs on this album, and I think it comes at a perfect time. The song features Krauss' vocals at their best and most ambitious, and has some of the best jazzed up, organ-centric keys on the album. Help from friend Ashley on the violin helps stamp "Once Again" as the most uniquely enjoyable song on the album. There's a subtle hint of good, free-flow jam band littered among the song's four minutes, only helping cement its place as the album's best.

Song That Could Use Some Work: There's something about "Where The Heart Is" that is just too corny for my tastes. It's a delightfully upbeat song that is plenty jangly, yet the Krauss' vocals seemed strained and the chorus of "You gotta hit 'em where the heart is / It's time to change that song / Rewrite and hit 'em where the heart was / We're singing all day long" errs on the side of cheesiness. I suppose it's better to be corny than to be just plain unlistenable -- something I can't say about some previous YAFI bands. 

Suggestions: Come out firing in 2011 -- get some more live shows under your belt, record a proper album that is perhaps over 30 minutes long (Guest House is 24 minutes). Pawl has plenty of promise, and they are doing all the small things right -- professional looking presentation on their CD, track names show up in Gracenote and their Facebook page is regularly updated and rather informative.

Grade: B

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