Local stalwart Larry Hirshberg showcases his wide-ranging versatility on Box Elder, serving up a dozen tracks that include old-school blues on “Handful of Dirt,” Pink Floyd-esque minimalism on “Nothing to Her,” and the head-bopping pop that drives “Settling Down, Obviously.” Box Elder is a bit like what would happen if you put Tom Petty, Mike Gordon, Weezer and the soundtrack from The Royal Tenenbaums in a blender. And, unlikely as the combination may be, it works.
Hirshberg’s music is virtually a one-man show (a few guests sit in on drums, vocal backup and guitar), and isn’t heavily produced, which gives it a fresh, unapologetic sound. Though he’s a stylistic chameleon, Hirshberg follows similar thematic threads throughout the album. Aging, parenthood, childhood and the discombobulated state of the world are addressed with charming and frank lyrics that at various points hint equally of earnestness and sarcasm. Whether he’s pondering the production of children’s toys in the remarkably catchy “Orange Lion” or calling for a new era of peace in “Watching Combat,” his distinct voice, creative melodies and compelling themes combine for an album that is diverse, but also distinctly Hirshberg