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Music Review - `Weathervane` by Rob “Splatt” Appelblatt (lz)

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

 14 July 2019

 

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With his trucker’s cap, rugged, stealth-like visage and guitar-clutching poise, Rob Appelblatt -- or “Splatt” as he’s known to his friends -- looks much more like a guy with country charisma than a native New Yorker. But as he demonstrates on this impressive introduction, he clearly possesses the skill and savvy to qualify him as an adept practitioner of austere Americana. That’s all the more remarkable in light of the fact that he came to his calling later in life. According to his bio, he didn’t pick up a guitar until after he graduated from college, and he didn’t even consider a career in music until two years ago when he attended Steve Earle’s songwriting retreat in Upstate New York. With Weathervanehe shows that he’s learned his lessons well, and. his spate of iconic influences -- Earle, Bruce Springsteen, Guy Clark, John Prine, and Hank Williams -- inform everyone of the edgy, emphatic selections that fill out this most satisfying set of songs.

Appelblatt’s good old boy persona reaches full throttle on numbers such as “Thunder Mountain,” “Leaving It All Behind” and “Better Man” where he plies his adept delivery with enough grit and gravitas to suggest he’s lived those scenarios he sings about. Like Earle and Springsteen, he takes a hardbitten stance, one that rings with determination and defiance. That’s not uncommon these days of course, especially given the tenacious times we find ourselves living in. However, Appelblatt’s mercurial attitude makes a particularly incisive impression regardless. It’s especially impressive considering the fact that the well-weathered Weathervane marks his recording debut. Truth be told, it sounds like the work of a man with a far more tangled trajectory behind him.

It’s natural then that certain selections bring to mind more familiar fare. “Movin’ On” recalls the Stones’ country caper “Dead Flowers,” while “Plain Old Fool” is somewhat Lennon-esque, ala “Jealous Guy.” And no, “Homeward Bound” isn’t the Paul Simon song of the same name. Still, it’s clear that these compositions were borne from a personal place, and even with the southern drawl he employs to trumpet these tunes, his sincerity is well served. Ultimately, Weathervane suggests a cool, fresh breeze is about to blow through. 

 Lee Zimmerman

 

Lee Zimmerman

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