ART PAUL SCHLOSSER – Do You Want to Walk on Water?
Long a familiar sight on State Street, Art Paul Schlosser, with his acoustic guitar, kazoo in its coat- hanger holder, and guitar case open in front of him, is best known for his Dr. Demento-style humor on songs like “Purple Bananas” and “Let’s Loiter.” So, why a gospel record? Why not? It seems to be a subject he’s pretty passionate about and the gospel songs seem to flow out of him just as easily as any of the hundreds of songs from his fourteen other CDs. A better question may be: Why so serious? Songs like the partially formed “Ride His Joyful Ride” and the dull “The Playground of the King” don’t have the exuberance intimated by their titles. Which is a shame, because as anyone who’s heard “My Cat Was Taking a Bath” knows, Schlosser is fun.
To review this CD for musical validity would be to completely miss the point. It’s never any more complicated than rudimentary guitar melodies with the random kazoo afterthoughts and the occasional percussion. Better to look at it as a study in the important lessons of the Bible, the focus of so many Sunday school classes, in minute-and-a-half easily understood chunks. While it is certainly childlike (occasionally charmingly so) in its methodology, this is not really music for children. Even though it’s under two minutes long, it’s hard to imagine a child sitting still for the plodding “My Sheep Follow Me.” The title track may be the most developed song here, especially following the painful piano-recital plunking of the secular “Eat Nutritiously.” And I don’t want to be the one to call the copyright police on him, but whether he knows it or not, he didn’t write “Jesus Loves Me, This I Know.”
Not all the tracks are songs; some are simply stories, poems or seemingly random thoughts. “The Airplane Story” applies elements from the parable of the sower who scatters his seed over all types of ground. Except in Schlosser’s story, troublingly, instead of seed we have passengers falling from a plane that seems about to crash. The moral: these people were all late for work while those who believed in God and stayed on the plane went to nice vacation places. The spoken-word track “A Few Words About Jesus” is exactly that. The songs found on Do You Want to Walk on Water? are available on iTunes, though at $.99 a song, it would make better financial sense to just send him a check for $14 for this disc rather than downloading its forty (!) songs. Not that you really need them all; after a couple dozen you kind of get the idea.
Schlosser is always most charming in small doses, and at 77 minutes, the too-sincere and overly serious Jesus theme starts to wear a bit thin. As it is, Do You Want to Walk on Water? should be treated like an encounter with him on State St: listen until you get bored, then walk away.