Green Man Review

Come Back Down – Aaron Scholz

This is Scholz’s 2002 hi-fi, full-band follow-up to his 2000 low-fi, played-all-the-instruments-himself debut, Perfect Child, which was hailed as one of the great independent releases of that year.

The Madison, Wisconsin-based singer-songwriter-musician delivers an excellent set of life-observing Everyman country-folk-pop compositions, a la classic, middle-period Ray Davies. In fact, on the back of the CD booklet, he urges anyone who enjoys the record to “go to your local indie music store and ask for The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society.”

A picture inside the booklet gives a good idea of where he’s coming from musically: a small motel called Hell’s 1/2 Acre, in the middle of flatland nowhere, with the huge plastic cube containing the “1/2” apparently long since fallen from its lofty perch while gray skies behind the remainder of the sign threaten to pour down rain.

This time out, in addition to himself on guitars and harmonica, there are five backup players providing guitar, bass, drums, pedal steel and lap steel, creating an uncluttered, straightforward alt-country sound.

What makes the record a real winner is that this “pure” instrumentation is wedded to fine pop hooks and the best damn lyrics this side of the turn of the century. In other words, there’s something here to please just about everyone.

Songs like “Old Road,” “Bartime Love,” “Learn to Crawl” and “Party Time” address issues of going back, quick romance, responsibility and maturity, respectively. “Secret Identity” is about running away for a hopefully better life and coming full circle, back to one’s hometown. “Starlite” eulogizes a drive-in theater gone out of business. “Caught Up” tells a partner to stop living in the past and help her man make sense of it all.

For only having two albums under his belt, and self-produced at that, Scholz displays an uncanny command of his craft.

-Peter Hund



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