You have to go back a couple of decades to find BoDeans making much of a splash on the national scene; back then their folksy take on Midwestern rock garnered a minor hit with "Fadeaway" and then a big hit with the poppy "Closer to Free" which was propelled into the spotlight by virtue of being the theme song to the popular TV show Party of Five.
BoDeans remain big regionally and are nothing short of heroes in their Wisconsin stomping grounds and a listen to Mr. Sad Clown demonstrates that the status is well deserved.
It would be inappropriate to compare the work of core members Sam Llanas and Kurt Neumann to that of Bruce Springsteen but the two acts reveal their ethos in similar manners, albeit with different accents.
"Shine" speaks of dancing with the devil's daughter, metaphorically referring to the trouble one can get into prowling the city by night as detailed by someone who's been there many times and longs to, against better thinking, go there again.
Llanas and Neumann both have voices that wring every iota of yearning out of mournful lyrics and songs like "If
" convey a sense of impending loss that anyone can relate to without being saccharin. "Say Goodbye," "Let it Ride" and the faux-western beat of "Don't Fall Down" all are hooky pop gems, and those are just a sampling of the memorable tunes among the fifteen here.
In short, Mr. Sad Clown might as well be The River as far as BoDeans fans are concerned.