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Tony Sly – 12 Song Program

Released by Fat Wreck Chords, 2/16/10

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Tony Sly has surrendered to his talents and his songwriting addiction to deliver us to his 12 Song Program. With close to two decades at the helm of the punk rock band, No Use For a Name, Tony has stripped the electricity out of his guitars and has deposited it into emotional songs arranged and composed by a masterful storyteller.

This is Sly’s first solo album. An acoustic album full of melodies that crawl of honesty and vulnerability, Sly shows the depths of his talents and his renaissance into folk/pop.

“Capo, 4th Fret” opens the program up with a brilliantly crafted ballad that illustrates Sly’s remarkable songwriting with, “the sound of ice in a bottomless glass tells me that all is fine.” A wonderful lyric, it’s perfect to begin a 12 Song Program.

A favorite in the program is “The Shortest Pier.” It’s a warm ballad that shines because of its simplicity. The craftsmanship is first rate, exemplifying how in just over two and a half minutes a meshing of feeling to sound can be just what the doctor ordered.

Sly’s influences range from the Beatles’ Rubber Soul to Bob Dylan. He draws on the works of these higher powers for songwriting strength. With the album’s brevity and straightforwardness, there are formative parallels. Joey Cape of Lagwagon also helps out, singing with Sly on “Amends” a charming song with the message, “I don’t think it’s worth the time to make amends.”

Whether this is Tony Sly’s second act, time will tell. His songwriting aptitude isn’t to be denied after you have finished the 12 Song Program. The voices will get louder for their Tony Sly fix and he will sponsor others like those that came before him. The sun is rising; it’s a brand new day.