In 1999, Will Owsley's classic-sounding, self-titled solo debut was nominated for a Grammy award and labeled one of the best pop records of the '90s. The Anniston, Ala.-raised Owsley is a product of his old pop/rock band, the Semantics, in which Ben Folds played for a time before the band folded. After listening to ``The Hard Way,'' Owsley's second solo album, you can't help but think where some of that sweeter guitar pop/rock has gone. The new album's got an edgier, rock vibe for sure. But it doesn't always work, sounding trite at times (``I wanna run through the fields of your imagination,'' he sings on the catchy first single, ``Be With You''). The best songs on the album sound a bit Guster-like and even Foldsian (``Matriarch,'' for example), or take on a country sensibility (as in the title track), or have a touch of the Cars (``Dirty Bird''). If anything, Owsley is an artist capable of complete versatility and good radio-ready tunes. Owsley plays March 26 at the Paradise Lounge.
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