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CD Review - A.C. Newman 'Get Guilty'

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Friday, March 13, 2009

A.C. NEWMAN "Get Guilty" Matador

There are some musicians who thrive on constant change and reinvention: Think David Bowie or Madonna. On the opposite end of the spectrum is A.C. Newman, whose style has remained recognizable throughout his solo material and his work as the driving force behind Canadian conglomerate the New Pornographers.

Newman's second solo album, "Get Guilty," is nothing if not consistent. All the songs are uniformly well produced and well crafted but suffer from a lack of range. A typical tune (say, "The Collected Works" or "Prophets") features a moderate-to-brisk tempo and is propelled by a mix of acoustic and electric guitar.

That said, Newman does know how to make a palatable pop song by incorporating his trademark elements: brightly strummed acoustic guitars, female backing vocals, a healthy dose of supporting piano. Overall, "Get Guilty" is an upbeat affair with pleasant melodies and a likable energy.

Even though Newman fleshes out each song with an eclectic mix of instruments, such as maracas and synthesizers, it all sounds like Neko Case-less New Pornographers. This is literate, grown-up pop music for parties where everyone gets to bed at a reasonable hour.

The album could use more diversity, with songs such as those on Newman's first solo outing, "The Slow Wonder," which kept with his style but managed to achieve individuality.

-- Dan Miller

Appearing Wednesday at Black Cat (202-667-4490, http://www.blackcatdc.com). Show starts at 8 p.m.

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