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Audio CD, February 14, 2012
Words that some have used to describe "NaCl" include: Full of sounds. Dry. Eclectic. Salty with a hint of citrus. Completely round. Engaging.
Each song has it's own textural environment, and yet all are connected by a thread of a pop/rock tradition.
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Rich T. Anderson spends fourteen tracks deftly navigating his musical influences--electronic/industrial, pop, rock, blues, and more--but never strays too far from his rock roots. This is a good thing, but it does make NaCl difficult to categorize. Progressive rock? Either way, I recommend listening closely to the entire album, at least the first time through, because you're in for some pleasant surprises if you pay attention.
The common thread tying most of the songs on NaCl together is Anderson's dry wit and sometimes silly sense of humor. The most notable exception to this is "Supposed to Be", a sincere, emotionally-driven ballad, one of the strongest tracks on the album.
Similarly personal, and equally compelling, is "Take it Back", a bluesy riff that shows a range and ability to project that is mostly hinted at in the other tracks. Rich's voice is at its best, here, making it an entertaining listen even while I sympathize with his pain.
Peppered throughout with rollicking rock songs that will stick in your head for days ("If I Kiss You", "Pirate Booty", "Don't Forget The Salt") and slightly slower songs that will, most likely, *also* stick (everything else), NaCl is forty-five minutes well-spent.
It's almost impossible for me to label the genre of NaCl although I guess I'd call it prog rock if there were a gun to my head. While the album is highly eclectic, a modest thread of the offbeat and experimental runs through every song. That thread gives the album a surprising cohesiveness despite the wide variety of song topics even more so than the slightly less obvious references to salt found in every song with lyrics on the album.
While I consider most of the songs on NaCl to be at least somewhat experimental, Anderson makes very subtle use of unconventional techniques. For instance, while "Tumbling" uses unusual percussion, references Ferris Buellor's Day Off, and briefly mentions the ancient Romans it's still a solid rock song about a man in a Laundromat contemplating his love life.
I want to explain what I noticed about the (explicit) designation on this CD. First, not all of the songs have adult content. Second, the adult content is mostly just a few uses of profanity plus a few innuendos. Other content listeners might find objectionable or offensive include lyrics stating that all loves are equal (potentially offensive to people against marriage equality), use of the word "abortions," and the expression of other liberal views. I wouldn't recommend NaCl for any of the conservatives or children on your Christmas list. However, if you are an adult who enjoys experimental, funny, or somewhat edgy independent rock-n-roll, you will probably like NaCl.