Nearly Human

Review by Ed Grieze (Switch to

_Nearly Human_ was a strong return to accessible pop for Todd. Perhaps one last try for a presence on the airwaves. "Want of a Nail" was a catchy leadoff single, although I heard a local DJ preface it by asking the audience to wait through the slow intro for the song to take off. But hey, he was playing it!

I recall reading Todd saying something about finishing writing some of the _Nearly Human_ songs the night before recording them. I think "Waiting Game" must have been one of those songs. Great catchy pop, but not as thoughtful as most of TR's words. Great sound! _Nearly Human_ may be Todd's very best production work, despite an overly thick mix on the opening Nail.

"Parallel Lines" and "Can't Stop Running" are Todd songwriting at its' best. Parallel is absolutely brilliant. To be able to write something like this -- what a gift! Todd did say Parallel Lines is a bit uncharacteristic for him, because he usually ends songs with hope. And every once in a while Todd hits a line that's absolutely chilling. He does so in Can't Stop Running when the song sheers into the line; "Into the arms of my god!"

"Unloved Children" contributes a well working funky break to the smooth pop of the album. The cover of Elvis Costello's "Two Little Hitlers" .. well ... fits in with the album's nearly human theme. The lyrics of the whole album link up very well thematically. Well done by the master!

Side two goes more soulful with "Fidelity," "Feel It," and "Hawking." The M. Gaye influence has never been more featured in Todd's writing and performance. Nice that Todd could put more focus on his vocal with the recording scheme of this project. And he succeeds in capturing the spontaneous accent of the group performance. Compare the Nearly Human sounds in your head to some of the all-Todd recordings and a difference is evident. It's amazing in how many ways the Nearly Human title can be applied to this project. Only from the brilliant mind of Todd. "Feel It" is presented with a different bass line that the earlier Tubes' version.

At first I didn't realize that Hawking was about Stephen Hawking. Then the whole song clicked. Again, how can someone possibly write something like this? Amazing. Hawking was great live too -- takes you on a trip, as intended.

The group effort closes with a more loosly recorded "I Love My Life." I really like the energy around the line; "First came thought then came deed, I got caught now I'm freed." Todd takes on a preacher role in this one, which some have commented is a bit dragged out, but I think he and troupe get stupid pretty well.

_Nearly Human_ is one of Todd's best albums. It's very strong in production, performance, writing, accessibility, content, connotative meanings, ect. It seems to have it all. What doesn't it have? A top 40 hit.

Now go vote. For the want of a nail, the world was lost.

- ED

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