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Saturday, December 27, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 27.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
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Take Me Down the Interstate
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Patchwork leader and songwriter Jeremiah Nelson employs an innocent, unkempt tenor voice on much of Take Me Down the Interstate, and sometimes that's a very good thing. For instance, when his voice cracks in strategic places during the lulling folk-rock charmer "Spaceships," he comes across as an indie sad sack of the first order. But on hazier indie fare like the episodic Neil Young analog "Losing Faith," the same strategy sounds uncommitted and uninspired. And Nelson's failure to really engage with a lyric is frustrating, because he's an interesting chronicler of wasted days and nights. In fact, many far more successful indie acts are put to shame by the haunting, piano-enhanced chorus on "Comfortable Chair," which draws a troubling connection between relaxation and oblivion that will make veteran lotus eaters nod in agreement. However, while a lax, almost narcotized vocal performance "works" in the context of this particular tune, it's not the perfect strategy for every song. By the time Patchwork have rambled through the last of Interstate's 10 tracks, a vocal style that had once seemed wistful and weird becomes wearying.

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