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Music Review - `Weathervane` by Rob Splatt Appelblatt (jh)

Rob Splatt Appelblatt  - Weathervane (click on image to watch video)

19 July 2019 


The cover art with the artist clad in a plaid shirt, adorned in baseball cap, and comfortably holding an acoustic guitar, leaves the impression that Rob (aka  “Splatt’’ by his friends) Appelblatt is a veteran musician from the South or the heartland who has logged thousands of gigging miles playing shadowy venues, coffee houses, or house concerts. In fact, this is Appelblatt’s debut album, he’s done little touring up until now, and he’s a lifelong Long Islander. His music, though understandably somewhat derivative, proves that he already understands the Americana idiom. He makes it seem all too easy.

Appelblatt, no youngster, didn’t even pick up a guitar until after college. His career in TV commercial production left little time for him to pursue music until two years ago when he attended a Steve Earle week-long songwriting workshop. This ignited the long latent “bug” and Appelblatt proves to be a quick study infusing rock, country, folk, and blues. Heck, he seems to have even adopted a southern accent for this album, Weathervane, recorded with session players outside of Nashville in the nearby Lake House, Old Hickory, TN. The aforementioned “derivative” may in fact be purposeful as Appelblatt tries to channel his heroes that include Earle, Springsteen, Prine, Hank Williams, and Guy Clark. Listen closely and strains of all of them will bleed through these songs.

Despite being a newcomer, the uninformed listener would certainly think he’s a well-traveled troubadour, every bit representative of his cover art visage. He brings his tunes across convincingly and authentically. It’s the earthy blue-collar approach embodied by Earle and Springsteen that drives “Thunder Mountain,” “Leaving It All Behind,” and “Better Man.” The bouncy, captivating “Caroline” sounds as if it comes directly from pre-Copperhead Road Earle. There are other influences too as “Plain Old Fool” nods to Lennon and “Movin’ On” takes on the Gram Parsons/Rolling Stones country flair. Fortunately, the story-song title track doesn’t immediately conjure up familiar fare although the half-sung/half-spoken approach somewhat resembles John Prine.  Don’t worry. “Homeward Bound” is not a Simon and Garfunkle cover and instead another buoyant tune with an infectious chorus. His closing “Good Woman” is sung affectionately and resonates long after.

We can easily take the title “Weathervane” as a signal that change is on the way. Appelblatt emphatically plants his two big boots on the floor with this auspicious debut but also seems to be forecasting that even better music is on the way.



Jim Hynes



Jim Hynes is an independent contributor on music for several magazines, including Elmore and Country Standard Time. He has also written for Variety. He was a listener-supported public station(s) radio host for 25 years in CT, MI, NJ and PA. He is also a Live music host/Emcee at several national and regional venues.

To Read All of Jim's Reviews, Click Here




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