* * * BODEANS. "Outside Looking In." Slash/Reprise. The BoDeans' music is the music of exuberant yearning. The same claim could no doubt be made about a lot of rock 'n' roll--from Donna-less Ritchie Valens to oh-so-restless Whitesnake--but these Wisconsinites make their brand of restless Americana more mature and invigorating than most, kicking up a dust with great car songs that are freeway-ready and, this time out, radio-ready, too.
Apparently fed up with being a "roots" band, the BoDeans have aimed squarely for album-rock radio-land with their second effort, and scored quite a bull's-eye. (Their unlikely comrade in this quest for the charts is producer and Talking Head Jerry Harrison, who relieves the first album's T Bone Burnett.)
Many of the debut's enjoyable quirks have been smoothed out. The country-folk tendencies have been toned down for the times, and Sammy Llanas' distinctive nasal growl gets less vinyl time than the more traditional tenor of fellow lead singer/songwriter Beau Neumann.
With the exception of the quietly disarming closer "I'm in Trouble Again" (one of three tracks included only on the cassette and compact disc), everything here seems a little less intimate, a bit more larger than life.