Michael Zapruder

This Is a Beautiful Town

Oftentimes, Bay Area singer-songwriter Michael Zapruder warbles like Ray Davies—in that charming sort of half in the bag, afternoon cocktail, unafraid to swerve outside the lines of the melody way. Many of the 11 songs on this solo turn by the former Naked Barbies guitarist benefit from nicely darkened minor-chord changes, whose haunt is akin to watching an autumn thunderstorm unfold from inside a richly paneled old library. The guitar and piano backing are exemplary. The close-up photo of wild grass and tasteful typography on the CD’s cover make for eye candy commensurate with Windham Hill’s classic shrubbery period. But all the atmosphere in the world doesn’t mean diddly if you don’t have memorable songs, and aside from “This Is What I Want,” perhaps, too much of this disc recaptures the solipsistic excesses of Jackson Browne—meandering, without resolution, through already well-trod ground.