Picks and Pans Review: Blue and Gray
Poco's biggest problem through 13 years of music (and personnel changes) has been the group's tendency to stray from the acoustic, country-flavored rock they play best. The problem persists in this new album. A loosely thematic collection of pieces about the Civil War, it could have been the perfect vehicle for Rusty Young's smooth pedal steel or Paul Cotton's adolescent-like voice to blend the simple, crisp feel of country with the spirit of rock. The finest tracks are, not coincidentally, the most country-sounding on the album. Sometimes (We Are All We Got), for instance, harks back to days when the group made melancholy lyrics comforting, not caustic. But the band insists on songs such as Streets of Paradise and Widowmaker, filled with electrified urban hard rock. Two other songs on the album, The Writing on the Wall and Here Comes That Girl Again, are more reminiscent of Poco's profitable but bland 1977 album, Legend. While the quintet's relative stability since 1977 could have fostered a rediscovery of its style, it seems instead to have led to complacency.