Local Wire

Tony Scherr

Though he might not be a household name, this Brooklyn-based musician's had a fruitful career as a sideman for jazz and pop artists (including Norah Jones) and as a songwriter. On what is only his second solo release, he showcases new material that follows up on his 2002 debut, Come Around. Having made the record in a home studio, Scherr takes a simple approach, backed by a small band of his brother Peter Scherr (bass), Kenny Wollesen (drums), Chris Brown (Hammond organ), and a few guests. The result is raw, but that doesn't compromise the disc's overall feel. Among the highlights is "Shopgirl," a slow tune about the attraction the narrator feels toward a hardware store worker who seems oblivious to his interest in her. On "The Good Life," he takes the standard made popular by Tony Bennett in a completely different direction by giving it, with the help of percussionists Mauro Refosco and Davi Vieira (from Bebel Gilberto's band), a Brazilian feel. Refosco and Vieira sound as though they're playing while sitting on a beach in Rio de Janeiro. "Shows a Little" is an upbeat tune that features backing vocals by Kate Fenner and Michelle Casillas (who also plays piano on the track). The chord progression is simple, making the listener focus on the lyrics about a woman who hides her feelings for her own convenience. Twist in the Wind is an interesting example of what a true musician can do outside a conventional setting. While many pop artists record in state-of-the-art studios, Scherr opts to record at home surrounded by longtime friends and collaborators. In the end, he delivers a CD that will please most alt-rock supporters.
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Ernest Barteldes