Listen Up: Wednesday, April 18, 2002
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Josh Clayton-Felt

Spirit Touches Ground (Dreamworks Records)

By Matthew Smith

Spirit Touches Ground recalls a mid- to late-’70s FM vibe. Such news, depending on your tastes, will either send you headlong into retro glee or toward the nearest john to blow chunks. The late Clayton-Felt clearly adored Supertramp, Kansas, Toto, and other such rot. At least Spirit reminds us why punk had to happen then, and why we desperately need a similar upheaval now.

The album jaunts along briefly in “Building Atlantis,” the first (and, for what it’s worth, best) track. It hints at better things to come — they don’t. Although “Waiting To Be” favorably recalls Muswell Hillbillies-era classic Kinks, the rest of the c.d. just finds Clayton-Felt emoting mellow, new-age mush over inane lyrical treacle.

In Clayton-Felt’s memory, some of this record’s proceeds will go to charity. About Spirit’s other high points.... Aw hell, there aren’t any. This music radiates less heat than a snow-cone stand in the Arctic. Bored session musicians punch the clock while sensitive Clayton-Felt alternates between Billy Squire and David Gates impersonations. It’s waiting-room music.

Then again, the Billboard charts have been 99 percent waiting-room music for years, so maybe the guy was on to something. Not that it helps him now; Josh passed away around Y2K. A Nick Drake/Jeff Buckley posthumous discovery seems unlikely, though, given the completely unoriginal ordinariness of Clayton-Felt’s output. Though best ignored, Spirit will fit nicely in the c.d. collections of those who think the Wallflowers, like, totally rock.


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