MARK CROFT – The Possibility of Disaster
The Possibility of Disaster is the second five-song EP released by Mark Croft in three years. One might think that’s not a lot of output but good songs can take a while to craft.
Croft has pared down the bigger band-and-horns approach of 2007’s Permanent Ink, going to a five-piece with Dan Kennedy on electric guitars, Jaye Barbeau on keyboards, Matt Rodgers on bass and Croft’s faithful drummer Bob Boyd. He may have hit on a winning combination as this quintet really grooves together. The addition of Rodgers is especially potent. Just listen to the bubbling bass line on “Mama Don’t Come Around” as Rodgers perfectly matches the movement of the percussive acoustic guitar and Barbeau’s barrelhouse piano. Along with Boyd, this makes for one hell of a rhythm section. Kennedy shines as well, adding some killer slide guitar to “The Edge of the City.” The tone is so exquisite it’s enough to frustrate a legion of budding guitar players. This song appears to be the compass for where Croft’s music is headed; way more Richard Thompson and much less Dave Matthews.
The subject matter is darker, too, with Croft jettisoning his nice-guy image to tell tales of bad boys, hit-men and lost souls. Nowhere is this more striking than on “The Edge of the City,” where the protagonist gets his revenge by shooting his brother’s killer. Another case in point is the closer “Never Going Back,” a stark acoustic ballad with eerie overtones similar to Stephen Stills’ “4+20.” Here Croft sings, “Now the buildings look like gravestones / And the wind blows scattered bank notes / And the church bells sing their lonely three notes songs. / I searched all around the darkness / But I found every fire spark-less / and I pray to God they don’t realize I’m gone.” Whatever he’s breaking free from, he’s making damn sure he’s never going back; slashing truck tires and capsizing boats in the process.
“Spinning Rhymes” is another standout and as close to rocking out as Croft has been known to get. He lets loose on the vocals, even adding harmonies and the acoustic guitars add driving urgency.
At times Croft’s lyrics are difficult to pin down. Maybe he gets his ideas from movies. Whatever the case, it leaves the listener to draw conclusions much of the time. What makes the exercise complete is that the music is equally engaging.