By alternating vocal lines with complicated guitar refrains and the occasional pregnant pause of surprising silence he creates a well-balanced sound for a solo performer. He also looks comfortable with himself all alone on stage. But he does have a tendency to sing with his head thrown back too often, as if howling at the moon.
That might not be an inappropriate impression, given the lyrical content of many of his compositions. At least five of the numbers on his six-song self-titled CD draw from themes of nature to express love, awe, and gratitude. It's easy to sound clichéd when writing about the moon, sky, and stars, but Stovetop avoids this danger with clever phrasing and captivating imagery. "All your dreams are stars inside of me," he offers in one love song, along with these lines: "Our hearts light up the sky / the opening of the eyes / a girl and a guy / rain or shine / hello and good-bye / give up or try."
Let's hope Stovetop doesn't give up, and doesn't let the inevitably subtler stylings of maturity dampen the fire in his belly. He's at the Crazy Wisdom Tea Room on Friday, December 26.
[Originally published in December, 2003.]