Lacking In Beauty and Substance

There are CD shelves full of country music in numerous record stores in your local town. Some people may swear by the Dixie Chicks or Johnny Cash; others may think country is a dirty word, however how anyone can describe themselves as a fan of The Beauty Shop is beyond me.

Picture the scene: A late night on the town and you stumble into a dirty hovel of a bar to drown the curry you've just consumed with some more cheap beer. There, in the corner of the room is a hobo with a guitar who 'believes in justice and truth', he believes in you, all day he soldiers on... no really he does. Singer songwriter guitarist and lyricist John Hoeffleur is 'The Beauty Shop'. One day he wants to move to Nashville and get a record deal. Oh wait... he's already got a record deal, but he's from Illinois, we can't have everything can we?

Apparently he's been described as having Johnny Cash's gritty attitude and the lyrical prowess of Leonard Cohen. The credit to these critics is mysteriously lacking, perhaps they were subsequently arrested for possession of mind altering drugs.

The album opens with the line "What if every dream I have ends in bitter sorrow", and sets the mood for the rest of this suicide note of an 'album'. It's like emo for line dancers. Things wouldn't be so bad if the mood changed occasionally, or maybe if John lifted his gravely monotone drawl out of the gutter and blessed us with a melody.

But what about the twangy guitars and toe-tapping rhythms I hear you cry? Well just head back to the country bargain bin because you won't find them here. The guitar is.. um... well recorded. It sounds a bit like one of your friends who bought themselves an acoustic guitar in an attempt to get laid. The solo is embarrassing; the notes are there, plodding along, but the musicicality is sadly lacking. Unfortunately that's it for instruments, yes there are drums and bass, sadly you'll forget all about them two minutes after hurling the CD out of the window in despair. 'Break the Law' promises much with its intro riff, sadly John then starts singing and everything goes downhill from there. The chorus simply repeats "breaking the law" over and over and over again until you just want to break it in his face. After two choruses the song just trails off and leaves you with a feeling that maybe you just missed something amazing, so you play the CD again. Sadly no, it's just as you thought, this really is a Desperate Cry for Help and I for one would like to offer John that help in the form of a bottle of bourbon and a fully loaded Smith and Wesson.

He wonders why he even tries, to be honest, so do I.