Pop Reviews : At 'Home' With Wilcox

Maybe somebody should direct David Wilcox to a good CODA group. Here's a guy who can write a song with the rich lyrical imagery of "Chet Baker's Unsung Love Song," and then turn around and produce the kind of excruciatingly introspective material most effectively dealt with in a 12-step meeting on co-dependency.

Wilcox's current A&M; album, "Home Again," has been touted for its jazz and adult-contemporary qualities, but his one-man program at Cafe Largo on Monday was pure '70s singer-songwriter stuff. The jazz elements never made it past the recording studio.

His easygoing, soft-spoken style--overflowing with politically correct male vulnerability-- worked best when it clearly reflected its root musical influences. Songs like "Advertising Man" and "Sunshine on the Land" had the exuberant buoyancy of John Sebastian; "I'm Dangerous" had the mock-macho whimsy of James Taylor, and "Still Small Voice" the interior allusions of Don McLean.

Most impressive of all were the works--"Chet Baker," "She's Just Dancing," "Farther to Fall"--in which Wilcox's special gift for parable was given free rein.

Less appealing were the sappy romanticisms of pieces like "Distant Water" and the therapeutic exorcism of "Covert War." Wilcox is too talented a songwriter to have to resort to such painfully literal probings when he is so clearly capable of expressing himself more convincingly in poetic metaphor.

Tonight Wilcox is at the Strand in Redondo Beach, on Saturday at Pepperdine University's Smothers Theatre and next Tuesday at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano.

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