If its backstory is to be believed, Linda Vista, the debut by California singer/songwriter (and son of Meryl Streep) Henry Wolfe, took shape on a cross-country drive during which Wolfe played only two albums: Paul McCartney’s Ram and Harry Nilsson’s Nilsson Sings Newman. It’s certainly plausible: Linda Vista bears traces of Nilsson’s ruined romanticism, Randy Newman’s acrid humor and the cockeyed romanticism of McCartney’s early solo outings. Though Wolfe’s songs are classically pop – “Open the Door,” with its whirligig acoustic guitar sparkles like classic Paul Simon and the title track, outfitted with lonesome harmonica, gallops lazily toward classic country – Linda Vista is situated in one of Tin Pan Alley’s darker corners. There’s a sense of perpetual defeat in Wolfe’s parched tenor, adding a layer of pathos to his brittle pop. Maybe he came across a copy of Blue Valentine at some turnpike rest stop as well.
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