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Easy Street Band 

Back on Easy Street (www.easystreetband.cc)

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It's a short alphabetical hop from Easy Street to E Street, but Springsteen is just one of the influences on Back on Easy Street. Culled from sessions that took place last year and in 1982, the disc is a well-executed but derivative piece of studio pop. "Band" designation aside, Easy Street's disc is fundamentally a vehicle for singer-guitarist "Westside" Steve Simmons, whose basic songwriting skills are solid, but other influences create the prevailing tone here.

The leadoff track, "New York," owes itself to the Boss, and the spirit of Billy Joel lurks within the smart charts and admittedly crisp chorus/hook of "She Don't Have to Know" and elsewhere. Simmons proves he can respectably navigate varied pop styles, adroitly turn phrases, and lay out imaginative lyrical scapes such as on "Last Man Out." What's in short supply is a strong up-front personality: Simmons blends in with his top-flight support players more often than he commands notice. The production rates with the best local work, but that's about the only thing that really stands out.

Speaking of Regional Beat

More by Duane Verh

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