Songs like “Hung On” and “Ghost Car” feature a sparse, Nebraska-era Bruce Springsteen feel, while “Hustlin’ California” and “Let My Reach Exceed My Grasp” recall vintage Neil Young and The Band. The sublime “Sister Played Piano” could be mistaken for a lost Tom Waits track, and “My Baby’s In My Town” echoes Tom Petty and The Byrds. Elements of Waylon Jennings, Bob Dylan, and Gene Clark can also be found on Room #4.
But make no mistake—Dodge’s songwriting is distinctly his own, and Room #4 might possibly be the perfect soundtrack to a post-breakup appointment with a side-alley bar and some strong whiskey, or a soul-searching drive across the country. The music communicates a strong feeling of genuine Americana and stands in the tradition of great storytellers like Hank Williams or one of Dodge’s early influences, Paul Westerberg. There’s no over-produced sugar to be found on this record—the grit, honesty, and realness of it all is evident from the opening chords. Much like a favorite sweater, Room #4 is warm and welcoming.
Arthur Dodge’s voice displays an amazing breadth, effortlessly shifting between world-weary drawl and an aching, rootsy earnestness. Often accompanied by lonely piano parts and sparse acoustic guitar, the melodies creep inside your consciousness and stay there. Room #4 is sure to earn a place on anyone’s “Albums I’ve Got To Tell My Friends About” list.