Calling Albany starts out promisingly with “Bells of Saint Alcohol,” a tune reminiscent in tone of Tom Waits’ Closing Time album, played on acoustic guitar nicely accented with melodica and accordion. It’s a strong start, but the followup is a bit spotty unless, one has a penchant for unobtrusive music. There are moments of clarity and beauty worth seeking out tucked amongst the velvety disengaged quietude of the set, however.
The gently rolling “Hello, Goodbye Sex,” with its big guitar strums, piping keyboard, sprawling drums, and hook copped from the Beatles’ “Long and Winding Road,” is a standout number, as is the piano- and drum-fueled “Arrest Harrison Ford.”
And don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing unpleasant about the rest of this album; digital recording technology has made the clarity of production alone enough to guarantee that. It’s the musical equivalent of comfort food; nothing’s better if you’re in the right mood. But if you’re craving some fire and spice, these tunes probably won’t raise your temperature.