Bent Wheel Records
Midwestern troubador Jeff Finlin affects a John Hiatt growl for "Ballad of a Plain Man," his stripped-down seventh album. The title is appropriate, for Finlin fronts a no-nonsense persona on this 12-track disc; "all I know is what I see," he sings. And what he sees is what you get.
With subtle backing instrumentation, the singer/songwriter lets his love-it-or-hate-it voice tell the stories more than the guitar he wields. He wraps his lungs around the lyrics in a rather unique manner, turning words like "beer" into two-syllable ones, and even sounds like Bob Dylan on the downbeat, moody blues number "What's the Big Idea."
Finlin achieves a mid-tempo drive across this collection of original tunes; he does so nicely, even if one wishes he'd allow himself to burst out in fourth gear more often. When he does' like "Jesus Was a Motorcycle Man "' "Ballad" finds its high points.
"My Rosy Crucifixion by the Sea" and "Is This Love" find nice shuffling grooves, but "Big Love Song" and "In My Masterpiece" fail to live up to their ambitious titles.