Ted Wulfers’ ninth studio release was self produced by the guitar-wielding artist in his LA his studio, 663 Sound. His handiwork was then mixed and mastered by Malcolm Burn and Richard Dodd. Somewhere along the line, one, or perhaps all three, decided to make these songs sound as massive as possible. Aside from the standard rock instrumentation, they layer on generous slabs of brass, organ, sax and backing vocals.
The strategy tries hard to impress but rather than making the songs sound stadium worthy, the impression is that the production values are wildly out of proportion to the simplicity of material. After all, these are essentially basic Americana tunes of loving and leaving with a few hints of social commentary on top.
In consequence, an anti-war tune (World I Knew) merely seems overblown and a throwaway number Fleur De Lis comes across as more salacious than silly (”Baby come on, you know you got me good”).
Thoughts & Prayers is Wulfers’ big state of the nation address with some carefully veiled criticism of religious and Republican indoctrination. With questions rather than direct statements(“Do we need a wall?) the song’s message is open to interpretation. The lines “ironically the majority believe in the priority to amend the authority” are more assertive but these words are conveniently drowned out by the bombastic mix.
The patience is worn even thinner by being made to sit through a nine minute instrumental (Desert Driver). This is dominated by screaming lap steel guitar solo that’s a good five minutes too long!
It is illustrative of an album which shows that sometimes more means less.
Ted Wulfer’s website