ROB ANTHONY – Inside You & Inside Me
At several points on Rob Anthony’s third CD Inside You & Inside Me he sounds an awful lot like Neil Diamond. What I really mean is that he sounds like Diamond in the same unlikely way that Eric Bachman of Archers of Loaf and Crooked Fingers does. It’s a subtlety of voice, tough to pin down, and a surprise when you do come up with it. Perhaps most apparent on track three, the likeable “You’re the One” (reprised as a pretty piano ballad on the final bonus track) he channels some of Diamond’s early soft rock classics like “Shilo,” much like Bachman did on a good deal of Dignity and Shame. An uncomplicated apology and plea for forgiveness, it’s the common tale of realizing too late that the one you let get away was the one, made less painful with a catchy melody.
In fact,”catchy” may be the perfect adjective for the whole record. It’s telling that Anthony enlists the vocal talents of Ryan McIntyre and Chris Szebeni for backing vocals on several songs. Both vocalists are cut from the same sort of pop-star cloth as he is, the former fronted Milwaukee pop band Exit for many years, while the latter is the lead singer of the ambitious Appleton-based Boxkar. Both lend their voices to the survivor anthem “Save That Rose for My Grave,” a guitar-driven defiant commitment to getting back on the path of his youthful dreams. The alcohol that derailed him in that song (“I hated for so long the bottle that tried to bring me down”) reappears in “Bring Me Back Down,” in which he details all its vacant allure “All these empty bottles/ There’s still no happiness/ No matter how high I get/ My head is still a mess.”
Anthony is at his best when he sticks to the pop songs; whenever the guitars get too heavy the songs lose their sincerity. “How You Went on Without Me” sounds like a 90’s arena-rock power ballad, while opening track “Have I Lost What I Found” traffics in a more generic sound than the rest of the record. And while its lyrics are probably harmless ( “You say we’re through/ I say not true”) they do sound a bit like a psycho ex. In sharp contrast, the lovely “Hold On” combines Spanish-style classical guitar with prayer-like lyrics: “Peace, peace I am/ Love, with love I give.” It’s the most daring and unique song on the record. It would be interesting to see him explore even more musical territory.