Before You Break

Frank Critelli

Thin Man Music, 2006

http://www.frankcritelli.com

REVIEW BY: Shane M. Liebler

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/13/2007

It’s tough to intro an album you’ve heard so many times before and Before You Break starts off pretty mundane, with the standard veteran singer-songwriter fare of “Downhill” signaling the arrival of this New Haven, Conn. band. nbtc__dv_250

The witty “Horndog” upgrades with some hilarious lyrics and hooks reminiscent of contemporary pop songsmiths Ben Kweller and Brendan Benson. “I know its true / For me and you / I see my chance / To get in your pants,” Critelli croons unsuspectingly.

The edge dulls a little on the weakly produced center of the record, but makes a brief return on “Reflections on a Friendship Heading South” when Critelli sings “And I’m feeling just a little confusion / About the drugs that you are using / ’Cause there seems to be a fusion / Of your head and ass” in a two-part harmony.

“Strange Opera” starts off strong as a requiem for smoking pot with friends, but gets a little schmaltzed in misplaced romanticism. “The Only Question Worth Asking” is a damn good country song that proves welcome, though out of place when it kicks off the album’s home stretch. The shimmering Creedence guitar accents are a nice touch.

The title track and “The Moment Of Creation” end the record on a strong note and actually make it sound like a bona fide full-length project as opposed to a set of songs to hawk after shows.

Critelli is at his best when he’s more introspective and less the comedian. The last two tracks really resonate before the odd but very welcome cover choice of Arlo Guthrie’s “Coming Into Los Angeles” unofficially closes things out.

Before You Break is a well-intentioned effort that hurts from its lack of focus. While the last two tracks are the most memorable and worthwhile pieces, the remainder shows off a few sides of Critelli that are all worth knowing in the end.

Rating: C+

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© 2007 Shane M. Liebler and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Thin Man Music, and is used for informational purposes only.