Matt Arbogasts dry rasp really does suggest Tom Waits, as everyone seems to say. But he sounds as much or more like Dickey Barrett (Mighty Mighty Bosstones), which no one ever seems to mention. Maybe its because its cooler to conjure the Waits imagery the cabarets, the broken-down bandstands, the shot-out streetlights. But Arbogast doesnt talk about any of that on Souls, his third full-length as The Gunshy. He knows hes no veteran like Waits or Nick Cave, and instead shows his age in the solemn chords of I Am Not Who I Used to Be, in the realization that love trumps excess in My Nicotine, My Whiskey (as in: She is...), and in how he builds a nice little song out of a random tavern meeting in $4 Pabst. Arbogasts songs are best at their quietest and most bare, and his voice shines when its clouded with angst learned from indie rock. Unfortunately Souls also includes a less successful batch of full-band numbers, songs that falter because they drive constantly toward something that never arrives, the violins and trumpets crowding Arbogast out of his own bedroom studio. When things are simpler he owns the songs and his voice.
Johnny Loftus writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to email@example.com.