It's sort of embarrassing to admit you actually liked Dashboard Confessional (anyone remember Chris Carrabba?) or the misbegotten emo genre. But for better or worse, all those heart-emblazoned-on-sleeve songs made folks start to pay attention to lyrics again, and when it comes to Keith Michaud, the rewards are nearly endless. With his genteel band Maypop and now with the equally genteel Summer Blanket, this Boca Ratonian has gradually unveiled a literate, thoughtful, and increasingly complex style. "I douse myself in alcohol to cover up the smell of funerals,"
like most of his best lines, doesn't come from the happiest of places, and his voice (think a slightly less-ragged Jeff Tweedy of Wilco) carefully ekes pleasure from the pain. The primarily acoustic Charm Wrestling
(2003) and its more energetic follow-up, the aptly named Whisper Louder
(2005), show that, even when he's annoyingly self-referential and more than a little hard on himself, he somehow forces the rank of legendary singer-songwriters to make room for a new South Florida sad sack.