JEREMY TOBACK -- Perfect Flux Thing (RCA)

Unlike many rising songwriters, multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Toback isn't afraid to try something new. "As a songwriter, I want to be bold and vulnerable at the same time," says Toback. Perfect Flux Thing is a riveting collection of original tunes he refers to as "the Buffalo Springfield stage that Neil Young never went to." The songs on the CD are lyrically emotional and poetic, with an aggressive edge. Toback's musical debut came as the bassist on the short-lived Pearl Jam side project, Brad. Though the project never achieved the success they had hoped for, it influenced Toback a great deal. It forced him to look beyond the avant-garde jazz he was playing at the time, and embrace the idea of writing pop songs.

The first single, "California Phase," and the title cut are two of the many highlights on the disc. Both tracks borrow from the sound and style of early 90's Matthew Sweet. "Eden Trampoline" resembles an R.E.M. tune, with a tinge of Graham Parker thrown in for good measure. One of the coolest songs on Perfect Flux Thing is "Downtown," with its dark, stripped down arrangement. "Unbecome" is a powerful track, which finds Toback sounding like Chris Whitley. "Blood White Gold" and "The Word Behind Words" are two of the more soulful tracks on the CD. The strings on the latter track add considerably to the song's dramatic sound.

Toback's songs are brimming with deep lyrical meaning, yet they manage to retain their musical accessibility at the same time. Perfect Flux Thing is a promising debut from a fine new artist.

© 1997 Steve Marshall