CD review

The Honest Hour

By Written by Aaron Stein
September 25,2004

To be honest, I had never heard any Assembly of Dust live or recorded before. But one day their new live album, The Honest Hour, just appeared in my mailbox, looked up at me with those big doe eyes, saying "Please, review me," and the next thing I knew I was in the car with Reid Genauer singing his heart out like he was sitting in the passenger seat next to me.

I had just one question: why? I don't know why I haven't been handed this music before, but now I have it, and this is how I call it: great, great, great. Kickass lyrics and melodies--you write a good song and you have good music and Genauer and Co. are showing they can get that done. The disc opens with "Man With A Plan" and I'm immediately and quite happily transported back in time to a mid-70s/early 80s FM radio where soft-rock balladeers like Jackson Browne, Paul Simon, and even Steely Dan gave listeners a reason to tune in. This music recalls that era.

The problem is there's nowhere for this music to go these days--music that is simple, perfect and pure. No room on the radio, so it finds itself associated with the "jam" scene because that's one of the few places where honest music can be heard. And this music is honest--the album is called The Honest Hour and it's called that for a reason. Even though it's a live album, there isn't a jam on the whole thing.

In the midst of all this brevity, the guitar solos are a bit much. If this set has a weakness it's when solos get in the way of the real meat and potatoes. Genauer has a way of building up to climax and releasing the audience's energy with just the execution of his songwriting rather than blistering solos or hectic jams. The result is the same and the album translates this quite well. The songs are about things, stories of people, descriptions of places, recollections of events and the words are poetry. So when my heart looked back down at those eyes once more and said, "Aw, can't we keep it?" I had no choice but to say "sure."