Brian Gladstone
"Alive And Picking"

(Self-Released 2003)

Recorded live in February of 2003, Brian Gladstone's "Alive And Picking" is eight spirited and likable finger picking guitar tunes. With Gladstone in the forefront with his sister, Bonnie, the two resemble almost too well, with their very polite banter and light jokes, that Saturday Night Live skit "The Culp's" with Will Ferrell as Marty Culp and Ana Gasteyer as Bobbi Mohan-Culp -- luckily Gladstone and friends skip the crazy covers the Culps would do. But do not hold that against them, Gladstone knows he is there to play and the conversation between songs is a minimum leaving the focus to the music.

Starting off with a quick paced tune, "Asphalt Cowboy" gives the listener a bit of insight, mixing urban and modern with folk and traditional ("The cave wall has evolved into a digital website."). With a soft guitar melody, "Jamie Lynn" is mid tempo and sprinkled with lots of tambourine in the background and an understated solo. Tongue firmly planted in cheek, "I Like Me" gets across its message of being who you are and liking it without sounding too sweet while the familiar sounding "Who Killed Betty Two Shoes," Gladstone reveals before the song, is about a "bag lady" he knew. A quick finger picking instrumental, "Somebody Stole My Gal" leads off the second half of the album before the extremely familiar "Caren42" and "Flashing Before My Eyes" enter gently. Gladstone concludes the album with "The Black Bearded Wonder," a self described "silly" better described as a vaguely nostalgic of ragtime and, with its sliding vocals, a typical closer.

With an overall folk feeling, "Alive And Picking" does not offer any deeper meanings or mind blowing guitar solos. Instead, Gladstone reminds you that bigger is not always better and relies, instead, on traditional ideas without coming across with a folk sound that thirty years too late.

B

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