“So he lights another cigarette on the hot plate/Remembers every word to a cheating song/His band used to play it now and then/He got to sing it, but he sang it wrong/He knew all the words, but somehow he sang it wrong.” With those five lines, found near the end of “A Trailer’s A Trailer” on the Dashboard Saviors’ debut Kitty, Todd McBride wrote the best short story masquerading as a stanza that I read in 1992, and recruited at least one fan for life.
Alas, the Dashboard Saviors called it quits after four albums (including a posthumously released live document also on German label Blue Rose), setting the stage for McBride’s recent resurfacing as the first Savior with a solo record. And, not surprisingly, since McBride was the band’s main voice and pen, Sketchy sounds a lot like a Dashboard Saviors album: bar-band rock with its roots showing, a style that seems a lot more standard issue these days compared to Kitty in ’92, given the increased number (or at least increased visibility) of so many twangy rock bands.
There are, however, three notable exceptions, a trio of songs featuring only McBride’s acoustic guitar and road-seasoned vocals. Two display his first-person storytelling skills, with “Major Leaguer” examining the precariousness and vicariousness of father-son relationships, while “Never Seen That Man Before” is the tale of a cop who “never made detective” but gets a little homicide in his life anyway. And a well-executed cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “You Are Not Needed Now” makes a perfect album capper.