“Nobody loves the loser,” intones Eric Klingler on the opening track of Twisted Troubadour. The following tracks make it clear that Klingler himself is a loser at love, and yet his lyrics are so amiable and his performance so approachable that it’s very difficult not to love this “loser.”
For his first album his producer attempted to flesh out the songs with bass, keyboards, percussion and background vocals. The aforementioned “loser” song has a 70s sound alongside a slight alt-country feel and 60s organ. “I Know” is a touching ballad of loss that tugs at the heartstrings with lines such as “They say that all in love is fair / But I don’t think that’s really true / Not after all that I’ve been through” and a vibe that reminded me of Mac Davis. John Denver is brought back to life with the finger-picked “Losing Side of Love” which incorporates acoustic guitar and strings against a lush melody. The loser gets his “dear john” comeuppance with the country-rock of “I’ll Be Gone,” optimistically tries again in the hopeful, sweet and uptempo “I Know That Love Is Gonna Find Me” (“I know I’m gonna know her by that look in her eye”) and finds the rainbow in “My Lover’s Touch,” a soft and wistful ode to the object of his affection.
While normally clean as new strings, Klingler’s voice gets downright growly in the rocking “Love Don’t Do The Things You Do.” “Goodbye Day” sports a great western swagger offset by a 70s synth playing a counter melody. “Yes Dear” is one of Klinger’s many humorous excursions, telling the story of a browbeaten male (“Whatever you decide to do / That’s what we’ll do then” and “I’ll scratch your back / And I will paint your toenails / And we will only watch your shows”), replete with a kooky and infectious monkey-like background vocal. The CD contains spoken-word female parts that, unfortunately, take the wind out of the best lines by dropping the punch line too early, but otherwise the song is perfection. “Viagra Vacation” is a raucous tune with ratty electric guitar and raspy voice screaming out “I’m turning 40 and that’s alright / I’ve got a ticket for the 9:30 flight / I’m gonna head on out to where the rainbow ends / With a can of Metamucil and a box of Depends,” as the protagonist goes on a blue-pilled mid-life crisis.
My feelings on this project are mixed. Having seen him live, I have a natural affinity for his ability to enchant his listeners with his affable humor and wit. And yet only two of his many fun songs are included, and one of these was mishandled, leaving a platter of morose laments. The production is well-intentioned, but too often effects are added for no good reason other than “it would be a shame not to use this effects unit.” This is not to say that the CD is horribly recorded; it’s not. It’s just that sometimes the extra echo or weird guitar vibe gets in the way of the song. Still, the strength of the songs and Klingler’s performance and lyrics manage to shine through to make this a solid debut album, effectively whetting the appetite for the next course. To get twisted with the troubadour, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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