Michelle Branch; Ben Taylor Band

It's the attack of the Earnest Guitar-Strumming White People! On his debut with the band that bears his name, the aptly titled Famous Among the Barns, Ben Taylor sings, "I am the sun/That's all I've ever been since I begun/All I'll ever been until I'm done." But, people, it's called a double entendre: Taylor's the son of James Taylor and Carly Simon, so if you think all he's referring to is the big-ass star we revolve around, you've been reading too much US Weekly. The young singer-songwriter, at Gypsy Tea Room on Saturday night, has a voice that sounds pretty much exactly like his dad's and an earnest white-person groove that imagines a landlocked Jack Johnson. Famous (which features a rendition of "Time of the Season" that manages to replace the Zombies' innate sense of dread with pottery-throwing serenity) won't change Taylor's lot in life, but it'll make for a pleasant something to show the relatives at Christmas. I don't know if Michelle Branch's parents are famous; maybe her dad was Employee of the Month at the State Farm office in February. Similarly, I don't know what Hotel Paper, Branch's second album, due next month, sounds like, since I forgot to listen to it. But turn up to see her at Trees on Friday and marvel at her remarkable everydayness; The Spirit Room, her hit debut from 2001, convinced me that she's the nice-white-girl version of Ashanti--skilled, anonymous, eager to be whatever you want her to be.
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Mikael Wood