Much has been written about how Stoltz's music is a blend of his influences. Many have seen this as an homage, a few detractors have said that Stoltz's music sounds great but lacks the depth of the artists he draw from. Let's think about this for a moment, here's an artist who has just released his third album, that he recorded largely on his own, and people are complaining that it does not compare with albums like LOADED or PET SOUNDS or ABBEY ROAD or THE VILLAGE GREEN PRESERVATION SOCIETY. Of course it does not compare to those albums. NOTHING compares to those albums!
I find this album to be incredibly moving, the happy-go-lucky lyrics sound like they come from a man who has been through the wringer and decided to say "f**k it, I'd rather be happy." The old-timey saloon piano of the song Prank Calls, sums it up just great: Life is going just great but there's always going to be the annoyances of and reminders of the rough times of days gone by, which come in the form of "prank calls" from "an old lover, who ain't gettin' none." the fact that the whole song has a throwaway feel, is all the more impactful. The same goes for The Rabbit Hugged the Hound, not so much an animal rights song nor is it an obvious anti-war song, hell it may be both, but Stoltz plays it off with just the right balance of pathos and wit that makes it feel like an interpretation of a 1950s Warner Brothers cartoon.
Then there's the beautfiul centerpieces of the album, Words which while definitely Velvet Underground influenced, has more heart and emotion than anything Lou Reed has ever conjured from that cold black heart of his and the absolutely gorgeous Summer's Easy Feeling which conjures exactly what the title implies.
Make no mistake, Stoltz may not be crafting albums on par with the best of the Beatles, Beach Boys, Velvet Underground or the Kinks just yet. But the fact that he's even being mentioned in the same breath as these iconic artists should tell you a lot where this guy could be heading.
For all of the talk of his influences, Stoltz is one of the most original, emotionally honest and clever voices out there right now. That fact seems to be getting lost in all the hype, but I suppose it is not easy to sell music these days and it makes sense that record companies have to boil things down to a couple of sentences for people to latch on to.
But do yourself a favor, pick this album up, listen to the man behind the sounds, he is there loud and clear and it is a beautiful sound indeed.