Halfway through "Something Goin' On Here," a lot of listeners may get the feeling that Pelon (a k a Don Carlson) is auditioning for a gig. Funk, rock, pop, blues, reggae--it's all here, delivered in a professional if hardly distinctive manner.
Adroitly handling the lead vocals and the guitar work, Carlson comes across as a seasoned journeyman who knows what it takes to make it on the club circuit. All of the tunes were written or co-written by Carlson (save for the blues standard "Rock Me Baby"), and though the album clocks in at less than 30 minutes, there's abundant evidence of a bandleader's craft and promise in a wide range of settings.
Indeed, a lot of well-known pop artists would embarrass themselves if they tried to explore as many styles as Carlson does here.
Unfortunately, versatility is a poor substitute for originality. So while it's easy to admire Carlson's musicianship, it's virtually impossible to ignore the absence of something truly special going on here.
Appearing Saturday at the Zoo Bar.
To hear a free Sound Bite from Pelon, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8127. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)