Black Eyed Dog – S/T

Black Eyed Dog took their name from a recording by Nick Drake, and while they tend to sound more southern or country influenced than folk, they do share some similarities to Drake. Mainly, the band writes some impressive songs. They’re not the most unique topics: the south, salvation, and so on. But they do put the words together well, and that makes this an enjoyable listen.
This North Carolina band uses some of the down-home pop of bands like Matchbox 20 and The Gin Blossoms, combines it with some southern guitar from Wilco, and maybe even a little Counting Crows thrown in. It makes for some interesting country-leaning pop songs. And the band isn’t afraid to sing about their faith. While that may make some listeners cautious, understand that Black Eyed Dog isn’t preaching or proclaiming, and you don’t mind too much.
“Mississippi Moon” reminds me of some of the less grungy Neil Young songs, perhaps with a dose of Wilco thrown in. The guitars are twangy, but not too twangy, and the vocals are perfect for the song. The guitars are nice, as well, rocking out without being too in-your-face. “Pray for Me” is one of the strongest tracks on the album, sounding similar to Jars of Clay’s rock style. This song is less country and more straight-forward, with some nice changes. “Three More Hours” could be Neil Young circa Harvest Moon, with soft harmonica and some soft, confident acoustic guitar. And then, by contrast, “A Million Pieces” has the most rocking guitars and rhythm, really driving ahead but not taking over the vocals, which sound intimately personal as main songwriter and guitarist Brian Landrum sings, “in the sun, it will be as one.” “Angel” has some warm, folk-feeling acoustic guitar and a deeply personal feel. A few of these songs, like “Ball and Chain” and “Comet” are fairly nondescript, tending to blend in with the others, with similar chord progressions and vocals. “Cover Me” actually has some sweetly picked guitar over soft drums, sounding almost indie rock, but it would have been better served without the vocals mixed so far forward. “The Way” sounds the most Nick Drakish, the vocals low and more introspective, the song carried by soft drums and harmonica.
While the music of Black Eyed Dog isn’t completely original, it is well done. The vocals are deep and personal, feeling somewhat homely and comforting. They keep the rock factor down just enough to make the songs lean more toward the pop side, and the songs are crafted well. Normally, I’m not the biggest fan of the country-tinged rock. But if you are, check out Black Eyed Dog’s songwriting ability.