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Hits and misses in local music

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You could call Anthony Neff's Generation X-istential Blues a turf-friendly release: It's neither earth-shattering nor ground-breaking. I hope that doesn't sound overly flippant because the album is also friendly to the ears, a solid collection of songs, nine originals and one cover, that once upon a time it would have been described as folk rock. In the end, it is what it is (and here I move from possible flippancy to attempted omniscience): an album created by a guy who decides to make a record for the same simple reason that he plays out a couple times a month--namely, it's something that he really likes to do. I'm thinking that when the day-job whistle blows, Neff heads toward a guitar instead of the television or the golf course.Neff typically plays solo at area clubs and coffeehouses, so it's a minor revelation to hear his songs presented in full-band arrangements, the fleshing out done with the help of some familiar names in the Triangle roots-rock community. Co-producers Kenny Roby and Rob Farris contribute guitar and keyboards, respectively, as well as backing vocals. Also on hand are two of Roby's former 6 String Drag mates, drummer Ray Duffey and ace guitarman Scott Miller, while Roger Gupton and Jeff Hart do a split shift on bass. There are modest touches throughout that both reflect the album's modest ambitions and give it some nice texture, be it the horns on the jumpy "Don't Wanna Cry No More" or Kurt Fortmeyer's harmonica on an album-closing version of Townes Van Zandt's "Buckskin Stallion Blues." "Fake Love" starts out sounding a little like Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man" in slow motion, and you half-expect it to launch into that song's big chorus--not that there'd be anything wrong with that--but it stays grounded by the weight of the two heavy hearts within.

The best cut is the title track, which, half Band and half Little Feat, kicks off the album in rousing fashion and chronicles the eternal struggle of coins vs. conscience and silver vs. soul. But you just know that Anthony Neff isn't in it for the money. He's in it for the tunes.

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