CD Review of A Sucker’s Dream by The Alternate Routes
The Alternate Routes: A Sucker’s Dream
Recommended if you like
Ryan Adams, The Damnwells,
Josh Rouse
Label
Vanguard
The Alternate Routes:
A Sucker’s Dream

Reviewed by Mike Farley

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Y
ou can probably count on one hand, maybe two, the artists today that are making albums full of melodic, from-the-heart pop/rock that makes you give a damn. Connecticut quartet the Alternate Routes is one of those bands, and if they’re not on your short list yet, they should be. This is a band, led by singer and primary songwriter Tim Warren, that doesn’t necessarily sound like anyone, but on any given track you might hear the Beatles, Ryan Adams, or another band you should get to know, the Damnwells.

As with the Alternate Routes’ debut, Good and Reckless and True, their new album on Vanguard, A Sucker’s Dream, was produced by Nashville’s Jay Joyce (Patty Griffin, John Hiatt, Tim Finn). Joyce is the kind of studio wizard who can make a good band great, and who can take a great band like this off the charts. And, surprise, surprise – he’s done that again on this sophomore collaboration.

One of the beautiful things about the Alternate Routes is Warren’s stellar vocal tone, something that draws you in and makes you want to hear more. But the songs themselves, and the arrangements, have some sort of magic that is missing from a lot of today’s music. Starting with the rootsy anthem "On and On We Whisper," there are several rockers that have the guitars and vocals way up front where they belong, such as "Ain’t No Secret," "The New Song," and "The Future’s Nothing New." But when Warren and his band turn the volume down a bit, these guys really shine. "All That I See" has an Americana feel without being too twangy, and the chorus is just money. "All a Dream" sounds like it stepped off of a John Lennon album, and while saying that may be sacrilege, you have to hear it for yourself. But wait, there’s more: There’s a pretty rock ballad in "Already November," a stunning, aptly titled "Quiet Highway Road," and "Desdemona," a pretty mid-tempo track that features the sultry Griffin on backing vocals.

Sometimes there aren’t enough adjectives to describe a band you think everyone should hear when you know they probably haven’t heard them before. But if that band is the Alternate Routes, it’s better to just shut up and hand someone a CD. Just don’t expect to get it back.

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