Steve Poltz entertained recent concert audiences by impersonating Don Pardo and Harry Caray, reliving a backstage encounter with a naked Flea, and stage-diving and crowd-surfing while performing “My Generation.”
Poltz’s new album is not nearly as much fun, nor the breakout he has long seemed poised to achieve.
Onstage, Poltz is part busker, part Iggy Pop and part Robin Williams, a freewheeling folkie with a quick wit and big heart. See him live and wonder why he doesn’t fill arenas.
His records are tame by comparison, alas, and that’s the case with “Shine On.” The 10-song set has mostly solid tunes that focus on love and positivity, and producer/guitarist Will Kimbrough makes like an impressive one-man band in his supporting role. But the album is too subdued and only hints at Poltz’s ramshackle charm and manic brand of comedy.
Best is the fable “Windows of Halifax,” a conversation in an empty room. There’s also a breakup song called “The Pickup Song.” And Poltz’s humor shows as he sings about fireworks on “4th of July” and “Ballin’ On a Wednesday.”
But the affirmational title cut ranks only a notch above Hallmark material, while the closing “All Things Shine” is even less convincing. To enjoy Poltz at his best, check his tour schedule.
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