An intimate album. How intimate? Intimate in a Robert Johnson/Skip Spence way. Intimate in a “leave the sound of those dogs barking in the other room on the record” way. Intimate in a just-us-pals-playing-for-fun way.
Ex-Dashboard Saviors member Veal was part of Jack Logan’s Bulk team, appearing on that ’94 album and co-writing a number of songs with Logan; he has also worked with Vic Chesnutt and Marlee MacLeod. For his first solo album, Veal hooked up with longtime Logan partner Kelly Keneipp, settled in at the Backburner studio, and cranked out 11 low-key, refreshingly blue-collar tunes.
The good-timey, slide-git blooze of “Summer Vacation” conjures images of Elmore James sitting in with Canned Heat, while “The Boss Of Me” nicks the “Gimme Three Steps” Skynyrd chord progression and lays a J.J. Cale-styled arrangement on top of it. “Wish I Could” is a woozy little guitar/mandolin, pickin’ n’ grinnin’ back porch thumper.
Best of all, Veal, who has a warbly, burnished rasp that’s a cross between Leon Redbone and Howe Gelb, is refreshingly honest and irony-free. In “A Job To Do”, while Kelly and Nikki Keneipp vamp on piano and clarinet, respectively, Veal maneuvers a pair of wayward chords and resignedly ruminates upon the numbing repetition that greets the working stiff: “Well my body has turned to jelly/And my brain is black and blue/It’s gonna be a long day/And we’ve all got a job to do/Well they’re saying it’s all been done/But we all know that ain’t true/We’re gonna do it all again/’Cuz we all got a job to do.”