Patrik Tanner

Independent release, 2004

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


Scruffy, whimsical and stylishly retro, Patrik Tanner is sort of like John Hiatt and John Lennon manning the two ends of a bear suit -- a punchline that makes much more sense after viewing the entire cover art for Soft, which consists of several shots of the rather world-weary Tanner in a big, brown, furry, well, bear suit.

The opening "Enter" promptly announces Tanner's key influences with its sunny melodies and "ba-ba-ba-ba-yeah" background vocals paraphrased right out of "Drive My Car." This disc isn't quite my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Revolver redux -- too much Americana flavor for that -- but the Fab Four's indelible sonic stamp is there in the classic-rock instrumentation, clever vocal arrangements and warm production.

What's striking is how full and organic the sound is, considering Tanner is pretty much a one-man band. A well-traveled producer (Tina Schlieske, Martin Zellar, Scott Laurent), Tanner puts his studio skills to great use here, playing acoustic and electric guitar, bass, drums, piano, Hammond, harmonica and whatever else he can get his hands on.

Tanner's penchant for sunny melodies is most apparent on upbeat tracks like the sincere "Halfway There," but he seems equally comfortable with -- and exceptionally competent at -- sarcastic blasts like "Best Ever!" In fact, it is as a Warren Zevon-esque sharp-tongue-firmly-in-cheek songwriter that Tanner seems to hit his stride.

Proving that point, "To Be Your Fan" is a modern classic in the underappreciated subgenre of musical odes to deranged fans (not to mention, surely the only one to employ a sitar). From its cheeky start -- "Your songs are my best friends / I guess that sounds pathetic / Your music's so profound / Your words are so poetic" -- the narrator becomes steadily more obsessive and unhinged in a way that's simultaneously funny, creepy and alarmingly true-to-life.

Just when you want to pass him off as a clown, though, Tanner comes back with a swaying, richly bittersweet ballad of loss like the gorgeous "Little Guy," and follows it with another, just as strong and full of keening little Brian Wilson-isms ("Don't Leave Me Here"). Which, now that you mention it, is exactly the approach Hiatt or Zevon would take. Comedy, tragedy, mortality and good punchline -- it's all here, wrapped up in a singularly appealing musical package.

Soft is a compendium of warm, witty songwriting and masterful studio craftsmanship that is well worth your time and cash. Highly recommended.

[For more information on Patrik Tanner, visit]

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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