Picks and Pans Review: Out of My Way

updated 02/24/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 02/24/1997 AT 01:00 AM EST

Peter Holsapple

Less grandiose than R.E.M. (with whom he once served as an auxiliary member), more offbeat than Hootie & the Blowfish (who lean on his instrumental prowess live and on record), Holsapple has long floated on the fringe of the pop-star orbit. But if there's justice in the galaxy, this debut solo album will turn the former leader of '80s popsters the dB's (and current member of the New Orleans roots-rock supergroup the Continental Drifters) into a star in his own right.

On Out of My Way, Holsapple plays most of the instruments, sings and handles the producing, but as usual it's his songwriting that really shines. From the sad acoustic ballad "Shirley" ("If there's magic in the air/I don't see it anywhere") to the full-throttle rock of "Don't Worry about John" and the sudden swelling of Beach Boys-style harmonies in the title track, the album jumps styles and moods without losing its emotional intimacy.

To say nothing of its warmth. For even in the Dylanesque "Pretty, Damned, Smart," Holsapple leavens his catalog of (mysterious) offenses with a pat on the back: "We say we admire you, because we do." Which is exactly how this casually brilliant album makes you feel about Holsapple. (Monkey Hill)

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