Two Cow Garage: Speaking in Cursive

It was arrogant to think from the start / You were the only backyard Dylan / With a folksinger’s heart” sings Two Cow Garage’s Micah Schnabel in “Folksinger’s Heart.” And while even an aged Bob Dylan has more vocal heft than Schnabel, who consistently sports a rasp that sounds like he’s been yelling at the top of his lungs for hours on end, he and his Columbus, Ohio-based band do tend to write some compelling songs. The bare-bones heartland rock that marks the bulk of Speaking in Cursive, the band’s fourth album, even veers towards E Street Band territory via crashing guitar chords and Andy Schell’s tinkling keyboards on “Glass City,” one of bassist Shane Sweeney’s several turns at the lead vocal slot. Sweeney’s vocals are at their best during the quieter moments of “The Heart and the Crown,” where he again echoes Springsteen, this time in his folksy acoustic guise. This kind of vocal restraint is in short supply, but Speaking in Cursive is saved by brilliant contemplative moments like the disillusioned “Not Your Friends” and the vivid character sketch “Sadie Mae.” (Suburban Home 2008)

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