Anthony Green - Avalon (Cover Artwork)

Anthony Green

Avalon (2008)

Photo Finish

Given the rabid devotion of his day job's fanbase, not to mention the monsoon of celebrity surrounding him, Anthony Green's solo debut could easily have been a fluff fest of the highest order. Moonlighting from the progressive-minded Circa Survive, he instead offers an album rife with nice surprises and compelling songs. He employs a few friends to help him realize the material, deftly side-stepping rote singer-songwriter pitfalls. While there are elements of your typical "solo project" found within (sensitive guy strumming an acoustic and singing about his girlfriend and other personal matters), Mr. Green proves himself much more than the frontman of an almost-famous band toying around with an exercise in vanity.

Indeed, most of the album contains a full-band backing. Sure, you get your expected folky numbers, such as the single-worthy "She Loves Me So" that slays with a deliciously unforgettable chorus. But what stands out most are the rockier songs. The upbeat pop gloss of "Dear Child (I've Been Trying to Reach You)" makes it a contender for repeated downloading as well as airplay on whatever music television networks actually play videos, an example of what Taking Back Sunday would sound like with Green on vocals.

What separates this man from the flood of teenage heartstring-pulling emo boys is that voice. The gutless wannabes and desiccated has-beens cannot hold a candle to the sun that is Green's vocals. He has it, a talent no teacher can teach and no hours of Auto-tune will invent. Green possesses a multi-ranged and unique voice.

He could use a little more musical daring. It's nice to hear the curveballs of the bluesy "Stonehearted Man" and the flamenco flare of "Babygirl." "Springtime Out the Van Window" consists of little more than a hip-hop beat and electronic sounds. Incorporating such elements into more cohesive material will make Green's music that much more compelling. There's nothing wrong with a troubadour, but we've heard plenty of those and plenty of mediocre ones. Green is more than a tattooed man with a guitar strumming glibly for the ladies.

His finest moment is a little number called "Devil's Song." It's a devastating, winding epic, a blues song without sounding bluesy. Its depth is confounding for an artist as young as Green, akin to hearing an 18-year-old Bobby Plant crow about matters far beyond his years. This is a timeless song, something that stands up to anything on Astral Weeks or even Highway 61 Revisited. Indeed, big words for a big song. The lyrical cadence is equally as grand, a fable wherein the protagonist releases a trapped demon in exchange for his name. The melody of the chorus is impossible to forget, Green testifying "this feels like a nightmare," as the backing vocals chant "we're all in the same spot." They're vague though universal sentiments sung with such conviction that the song is destined to serve as a staple in Green's live repertoire.

If this is only the beginning, imagine what comes next.