These days I’m impressed by anyone that makes the effort to release their music in physical form, be it vinyl, CD or even cassette. I’m even more impressed if they bother to put a copy in a padded envelope or cardboard mailer and send it here to the magazine instead of just uploading some songs to Soundcloud and shooting over a link in an email. Unless, that is, the package shows up “postage due,” which is how Riddles, the fourth CD from Tucker singer-songwriter Billy Gewin, arrived.
Gewin – who plays in various local cover bands, teaches guitar lessons and records musicians in his home studio in addition to performing his own original music – prides himself on packing Riddles with musical and lyrical variety to showcase his abilities, and that’s certainly true of the first three songs. Opener “Butterfly” is upbeat country-rock, followed by “It Feels Right,” a brassy falsetto-voiced disco number, which itself is followed by “The Levee,” a gypsy jazz number about the Fukashima nuclear disaster! After that rather disjointed introduction, the stylistic sequencing smooths out significantly, alternating between sappy folk songs, happy folk songs, depressing folk songs, and a spirited duet with frequent performing mate Jana Wolf.
I wouldn’t pay full price for it, but for the 60 cents I had to chip in at the post office, it’s not terrible.