The Hope Trust

Light Can't Escape (Self-released)

At every opportunity, Kelly Upshaw and his backing band of Denton's finest mercenaries in The Hope Trust—a lineup that includes Bosque Brown's Jeremy Buller, RTB2's Grady Don Sandlin and Andy Odom of Doug Burr's pre-solo outfit, The Lonelies—seem to go out of their way to dispel the notion that they're some kind of folk or alt-country outfit, à la seemingly every other act spawned in the college town. Maybe they're not, but Light Can't Escape, the band's anticipated sophomore effort, doesn't do much to bolster their defense. If anything, the disc thrusts the band into the sometimes dreaded pop-rock sphere—despite, even, the supposed New Wave direction that the band's pre-release literature argued was some sort of influence on this new material. So, um, where, then, is this new influence to be found? Maybe in a bass line here or there, but not overwhelmingly in any of this band's middle-of-the-road offerings.

Sounding like The Wallflowers in pearl snaps—probably due more to Upshaw's Jakob Dylan-esque vocal delivery than anything else—the band is clearly mining some somber material here in its collection of songs about confused love. "Throw Me Overboard" and "Afterglow" stand out thanks to some electronic flourishes, but for the most part the songs blend together to the point of detriment. Upshaw's angsty offerings, seemingly cribbed from his diary, are sonically pleasing but hardly ever deviate from their straightforward, monotone formula. No need to pay full attention here: Lose your place on one song and you'll pick it back up in another. Because, hell, it all sounds like the same song.

Fortunately for The Hope Trust, it's still a pretty decent song. Just not one that merits this album's 11-track offering.

 
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