Walter Clevenger & The Dairy Kings – Full Tilt & Swing
Walter Clevenger is to Nick Lowe what Dale Watson is to Merle Haggard, or what the music on Al Green’s latest album is to the music on Al Green’s old albums: a contemporary exemplar of a beloved but mostly long-gone musical style. As Lowe himself has always been devoted to old-school rock-and-pop, Clevenger’s extension of that preservation project is only fitting. In Clevenger, Lowe has a preserver who has provided a worthy model for future rock-and-pop devotees.
Full Tilt & Swing, Clevenger’s fourth album, provides any aspirants with a notebook’s worth of Pop-Rock Rules Of Thumb. For starters, Don’t Be Afraid To Be Sweet, as Clevenger is on “I’ll Be The One”, a lullaby of father-daughter devotion. Also, Don’t Forget The Twang (“Stronger Than That” is beefy California country-rock); Crank The Power Chords (a la his “Dream Police”-inspired “Radio Sea”); and Pop’s Punch Is Punchier When Brief (actually, Clevenger could improve on this count; most cuts here would be better if 30 seconds shorter).
Ever the Lowe disciple, Clevenger also knows that it helps to Be Clever, If You Can. For example, his “Jonathan Doe” is a spurned lover who may or may not be an unidentified cadaver. And, even if your ideas aren’t particularly clever, you’ll never go wrong if you remember the big three rules of the pop-rock estate: Hooks, Hooks and Hooks. On Full Tilt & Swing, it’s Clevenger’s adherence to those rules especially that insures he doesn’t go wrong.