Volume 95, Issue 10

Tuesday, September 18, 2001
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The new Plan calls for an ass kickin' good time

The Glass House shatters

Keanu gets it right in the 'hood

Hissy Fit: adding a little spunk to punk

Don't be silenced by tragedy

Tielli solo is a no-go

This is for sure, tweaker rocks

Tielli solo is a no-go

Martin Tielli

We Didn't Even Suspect That He Was the Poppy Salesman

Six Shooter Records

2 1/2 stars (out of five)

Fans of the Rheostatics will no doubt be eagerly awaiting the release of lead guitarist Martin Tielli's first solo effort, We didn't even suspect that he was the Poppy Salesman.

Unfortunately, those expecting to hear new Rheostatics song or, at the very least a showcase of Tielli's guitar skill, will be disappointed.

Salesman features eleven tracks of strange poetic ponderings set only to the sounds of quiet, unpolished acoustic guitar.

Tielli took a novel approach to recording this album. All songs were performed in single takes with Tielli providing his own live accompaniment. This was meant to give the album a live feel, but in many cases it turns out to be more of a distraction than anything else.

Some tracks like, "I'll never tear you apart," and "Voices from the wilderness" are deeply personal and moving songs, similar in sound to those of folk great Nick Drake. These tracks make the listener feel as though they're listening to an intimate live performance and the effect is powerful.

But in extreme contrast, "Double X" and "That's how they do it in Warsaw" sound like bad high school poetry. The live-to-tape recording method lends songs a karaoke sound that only makes them even more painful to listen to.

Throughout Salesman, Tielli shows glimpses of the true artistic genius and musical ability that has made the Rheostatics such a success.

Unfortunately, the manufactured feel of his recording technique and the lack of consistency take away from the positive aspects of Tielli's music.

In his debut album, Martin Tielli has given us a glimpse of his ability. Hopefully, in future albums we will get to see its full extent.

–Joel Locklin

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Copyright The Gazette 2001