Hailing from Swampscott, MA Tad Overbaugh is no newcomer to music. From 1996 - 2009 Overbaugh was in a band called The Kickbacks, which you may have heard of. Recently, Overbaugh decided to go out at it alone and released his debut solo album entitled Beauty & Barbed Wire. The album is a mix between country and light alternative ‘90s rock bands like The Gin Blossoms and Toad The Wet Sprocket. It’s a formula he doesn’t deviate from so if you like one song you will like the rest of what the album offers.
This album has a commercial radio type appeal that is certified hipster repellent. Everything from the production to the hooks scream out “single.” The songs could be considered guilty pleasure for those who wouldn’t be caught listening to anything but the “coolest” thing around.
The album kicks off “Lethal Charm,” which veers more towards light alternative pop than country. Overbaugh serves up a predictable structure that doesn’t contain any surprises. The song is infectious whether you want it to be or not. If you listen to the song even once there will be a chance you will be singing “She is killing me with lethal charm” in the shower later that evening. A similar vibe continues on “Bill Stares At The TV,” which contains straightforward lyrics about a middle-aged schlub who is having an existential dilemma.
“Done With This Town” has more of a country feel. Overbaugh sings about one of the most overdone topics in country and rock. I think you can figure out what the song is about from the title.
In all honesty the remaining songs on the album are interchangeable except for “North Side Of The Grass.” One thing you can say is that he sure is consistent. He found a formula and it is something that he implements with slight variations. There is no doubt that Overbaugh knows how to write a song but I think experimenting outside of his comfort zone may have benefitted the album from sounding monotonous.
Beauty & Barbed Wire is a well written but unadventurous album that is most fit for fans of mainstream music.
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