When you've got a guy with a guitar, chances are he's got to be either incredibly entertaining or a self-indulgent bore. Happily, Colin Meloy leans more toward the former on this aptly dubbed effort recorded at various dates during his 2006 solo tour. Meloy, one of the lynchpins for the Decemberists, forsakes his band's extravagant ambitions, stripping their songs down to bare melodies and reinterpreting them as simple sing-alongs. Despite the drastic redos, Meloy mostly succeeds, thanks in large part to his own self-deprecating humor and an earnest strummed style that keeps his audiences rapt and engaged. Colin's also quirky; he introduces his stage props (a stuffed sheep, a ship, and a skull) by name, and his recitation of the worst song he ever wrote — a ditty dubbed "Dracula's Daughter" ("If you think you have it bad/What if you had Dracula for a dad") — as well as his unlikely choice of a traditional tune by obscure British folksinger Shirley Collins are nothing if not unusual. Granted, his repertoire may be unfamiliar to all but the most ardent fans, but even novices will enjoy the hook-heavy Decemberists standard "Here I Dreamt I Was an Architect" (which segues nicely into Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams") and "Wonder," a lovely unreleased ballad that reflects Meloy's sensitive side.
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