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The Silos
WHEN THE TELEPHONE RINGS
(Dualtone)

It takes an extraordinary songwriter to pen a number as beatifically positive as "Whistled a Slow Waltz," which extols the values of family ties and love without seeming clichéíd. And thatís where Silos frontman Walter Salas-Humara comes in. For 19 years, heís led the band with his deft pen, having near-scrapes with fame but mostly recording album after album with songs full of heart and musicianship, then buzzing from town to town in a van to deliver them on stage with all heís got. One could call him New York Cityís answer to Austinís Alejandro Escovedo. Heís explored everything from punk to experimental sonics to down-home country rock without reservation.

This album has a wide range. At times, as in the fiddle-and-B-3-organ-dappled "Whistled a Slow Waltz," heís deep into a rootsy folk-based sound. Then heíll dive into a cut like "Innocent" and rock like hell while extolling the virtues of personal responsibility as a kind of inner liberation ó a complex topic that he expresses simply and clearly in a hooky chorus. Then thereís "When the Telephone Rings," which uses textural peals of lap steel guitar and little else but the pad of a tom-tom to evoke a sense of longing thatís made all the more resonant by the dusty tones of his voice. It all turns on his knack for spare perfect arrangements ó and on his unchecked emotionalism. But few artists wear their hearts on their sleeves with such dignity.

BY TED DROZDOWSKI


Issue Date: September 17 - 23, 2004
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