Out Here

Cary Pierce
You Are Here
(Aware Records)

Cary Pierce is the eternal straight man, taking himself so seriously that his every word and gesture are too good to ignore. You Are Here is an early Christmas present, wrapped in lyrics so unabashedly earnest they make James Taylor sound like John Cage. Pierce -- one half of Jackopierce with partner Jack O'Neill for, uh, let's just say way too long -- wouldn't know a thing about irony (or a sense of humor, or the ability to be interesting for any appreciable amount of time) unless it's one of the amorphous problems the lady in his life always seems to be suffering from. Of course, even though all 12 songs on his solo debut are about a very serious crisis he's having with some blandly pretty sorority girl, he never really gets to the point, assuming there ever was one. He writes in the banal generalities of a life-long Hallmark employee, mistaking meaningless clichès for heartfelt sentiment (see: "Home," "All Quiet," and, well, every other song on the disc). They're all love songs, but he might just be talking about his pretty, pretty hair. Or something like that.

On You Are Here, Pierce is all twisted up about something, but he never really lets on what that is, and that's probably just as well. When he does get around to actually putting a finer point on it, such as on "She's For Free," it turns out that he's upset about people putting fliers underneath the windshield wiper of his car, advertising "more about more stuff for my home, for the kids and a dog I don't own." Give Pierce a little credit for penning a song about the overmarketing of our culture (oh, like he meant to), but, of course, he decides around the chorus to turn "She's For Free" into yet another song about a girl, with too much rhyme and absolutely no reason. Evidently, when he consulted his magic eight ball for a bit of lyrical assistance, all signs pointed to showing his sensitive side again.

Not that it's all that noticeable when put in context with the 11 other songs on You Are Here, each one a little more insipid than the next. The disc is more or less (we'd guess more) an amalgam of every bad song that's appeared on The Edge in the past three or four years, leaning heavier on matchbox 20's jingle-jangle side of things. And, inexplicably, he even tries to rock out on "TransAtlantic," which is the best idea he has on the album, turning up the guitars so loud no one can hear his poor-me routine about a girl who went all the way overseas to avoid him. Too bad -- at least for Pierce's sake -- that the amps weren't a little louder on "Given The Time," when he theorizes that, "If I would give myself the chance to find out who I am, I might turn out to be someone I'd like." We know what our answer is.

Zac Crain

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