Stevens gets himself off the hook when he himself calls “The Avalanche” shameless right in the damn cover art. The recent collection of more Illinois songs, aka songs that didn’t make the original “Illinois” record, are enough to make you brain-dead. I like “Illinois” just as much as the next guy, but this record burned me out on Stevens after only one listen. There are some good songs that maybe could’ve made it onto the first record—like “Pittsfield” or “The Mistress Witch from McClure”—but other than that, it’s a true sonic rehash of last summer’s glory, for better or worse, that includes three different versions of “Chicago,” none of which anywhere as good as the original. Live, however, Stevens has never failed to put on a fun show, and I’ll guess tonight won’t be any different. Whether he’s saluting Illinois, remembering Michigan or taking it down a notch and singing of swans, Stevens is a showman for sure, knows how to involve the audience and have fun, even though some of his songs are really, really depressing. (Tom Lynch)
September 26 at the Riviera Theatre.