From Friday’s Weekend Look section of The Oklahoman.
Steve Poltz “Traveling” (98 Pounder Records)
Singer-songwriter Steve Poltz lives up to his reputation for quirkiness with his latest album, “Traveling.” Many of the disc’s 11 tracks combine lively or lovely melodies with deceptively heavy lyrics.”Stay Away a Little Closer” is a peppy pop song that sounds like something out of the Patridge Family’s repertoire but tells the tale of an adulterous affair. With its guitars, pianos and strings, “Haters’ Union” shares the pain of missing a lost lover but also seems to refer to his old band The Rugburns.
Poltz has received a lot of attention for “Street Fighter’s Face,” a perky, upbeat tune with a strikingly downbeat story about a Marine who loses his legs in the Iraq War.
Fortunately, it’s not all sunshiny gloom. Poltz regains his faith in love on the bouncy “I Believe” and alluring “Break on Through.” “Brief History of My Life” is amusing and melancholy. “Serve Me My Food” is an inscrutable bit of nonsense sang in a funky falsetto.
The Canada-born and California-bred musician takes some risks. “I Think She Likes Me” begins with a minute of dizzy guitars before Poltz croons, and when it seems he should start the second verse, the song suddenly ends. The jangly “Rains” not only boasts jumpy percussion and eerie backing vocals, but it has a sneaky-fun false ending.
Poltz will perform this weekend at the WinterTales Storytelling Festival and at the Blue Door.