JOEL KROEKER Melodrama (True North) Rating: NNN
Winnipeg-born, Randy Bachman-approved guitar virtuoso Joel Kroeker is a roots music marketer's dream: a bleached-blond hunk with an eyebrow piercing who might make folkie music palatable to the teenybopper demographic. No wonder heavy hitter Universal teamed up with folk-focused True North to release his debut disc. Kroeker's a good guitarist who writes decent songs that mesh acoustic intricacy with the shiny radio-friendly hooks so vital for MOR success. Melodrama (out February 24) starts strong, with catchy, singable ballads and ends even stronger, with genre-challenging experimentation like the Threepenny cabaret swagger of Naked Beauty and the soulful Blue Moon Lounge. Unfortunately, the middle stretch is a bit of a tepid yawn. Still, a solid effort. See if Kroeker can cut it live when he plays shows at the El Mocambo and C'est What Friday (January 30).