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Adam Rich 

Foundation (Love Muffin)

Instrumental music too often puts finesse over feeling, forsaking emotion for expertise. This isn't the case with the debut from guitarist Adam Rich. On Foundation, which was recorded over three years, Rich proves himself to be a workmanlike player who seldom elevates virtuosity over sentiment.

Sure, Rich can wail -- check out "Fubar," a hard-charging knuckle-duster that shoots sparks like a Roman candle. But throughout Foundation, he seems out to prove himself as a songwriter more than an axeslinger. Three of the seven cuts feature vocals, to varying degrees of effectiveness. "Spring Break," a touching tribute to Rich's late grandmother, is a highlight, with singer Cary Matthews nicely complementing Rich's intricate strumming. Elsewhere, laughably lame lyrics turn songs like "Generation Next" into soundtrack fodder for a bad after-school special. "Hanging out at the mall, drinking alcohol," Jared Levengood moans, "Got a gun above your bed upon that shelf/Smoking pot, having sex, acid trips/These kids are just 10 and 12." With lyrics like these, Jared can't be much older. Still, despite such missteps, and a goofy album-ending percussion jam, this is indeed a solid Foundation upon which to build a career.

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