Jimmy Gnecco, the elaborately coiffed New Jersey dude who records under the nom de rock Ours, is one of the most dramatic of the new breed of singer-songwriters. On Precious, the follow-up to his aptly titled 2001 DreamWorks debut, Distorted Lullabies, he seems to have realized that he’ll never muster the soul-shredding bombast his obvious idol Jeff Buckley occasionally achieved. But that doesn’t stop him from producing his own brand of somewhat less fine-tuned bombast.
The lead single, "Leaves," is a study in the dynamics of making a dramatic mountain out of an emotional molehill that conflates the changing of the seasons with racial unrest in a howling voice he must practice in a soundproofed room somewhere. "I see the morning paper/I crumble it to bits," he reveals without a shred of irony. "Nothing even matters," he moans over and over again in "Disaster in a Halo." Fortunately, producer Ethan Johns, one of Ryan Adams’s frequent collaborators, matches Gnecco’s melodramas every step of the way, piling up layers of acoustic and electric guitars, adding plenty of keyboards and his own muscular drumming, and generally creating a sonic setting that suits Gnecco’s overheated approach. It’s Johns’s sympathetic touch, in particular, that keeps Gnecco’s cover of the Velvet Underground’s "Femme Fatale" from becoming a total embarrassment — something that can’t be said for the entirety of Precious.
(Ours open for the Wallflowers this Monday, December 2, at Avalon. Call 617-423-NEXT.)