ROB SZABO A Battery Of Tests (Basement Bar) Rating: NN
Local singer/songwriter Rob Szabo sounds strikingly like Elliott Smith (R.I.P.), with the same quiet urgency in his vocal delivery and stripped-down, jaggedly melodic song arrangements, although he doesn't display the same affinity for waltz tempos. So far, so good. Thing is, Smith was a really great storyteller, who managed to balance his anthems of self-loathing with impressionistic anecdotes and off-kilter vignettes. Szabo hasn't quite mastered that skill in the lyrics department. He seems like a talented guy with an ear for sweet hooks, but he doesn't challenge himself to break out of the same chord progressions and structures. The tunes on A Battery Of Tests are generally variations on one or two sonic themes that evoke - oddly enough - Extreme's More Than Words. Rob Szabo plays C'est What tonight (Thursday, January 29) and opens for Danny Michel at the Rivoli Friday (January 30).