Elliot Schneider’s new album, the improbably titled Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basketcase, is an eleven song collection accompanied by some supplementary historical material intended to further elucidate Schneider’s musical career for the uninitiated. The mixture of this new and past material never damages the overall presentation of this release; there’s a clear distinction between the new and old material while still sounding part and parcel of the same artistic vision. Schneider’s skills as a musician, performer, and songwriter are naturally honed to a razor sharp edge because he continued playing and writing for passion’s sake alone so his albums released since his late-life re-emergence as a recording artist come across as impressively well rounded – he’s just as home with modern rock as more traditional guitar driven styles. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basketcase is one of the year’s most inventive recordings and pulses with life.
It begins on a decidedly high note with the track “The Moon Has Flown Away”. This has a pleasant, non-assertive feel while still maintaining a solid stream of energy. There’s definitely a strong retro influence on the song, but it has an engaging and warm sound coupled with sharply worded lyrics brimming with well chosen energy. Some of the songwriting is particularly engaging, like the way it builds up to its pay off line and the light touch of harmony vocals exerting their influence over the final product. “Diehard Killjoy” uses backing vocals more generously and it tempers what might be a lightly tedious recitation in song of an obnoxious subject. Other elements of the performance are equally good at distracting us – namely, the understated piano brawling just under the mix along with rough and rowdy guitar work. There’s a more meditative mood coloring the song “Captain Argent” and it comes with far less reliance on the guitar and the classic rock tropes of earlier numbers. Schneider’s vocal displays much of the same spirited engagement we hear on the earlier numbers, but there’s a little more consideration at play here as well.
The propulsive drumming opening “A Key To You” unfolds like you might expect when some low-hung, riffing guitar dive bomb in over the top and the band immediately establishes an immediate groove. There’s some light keyboards buried in a little in the mix, but their effect isn’t negligible. There’s a practically doo-wop sound coming over on one of the song’s more memorable bits of rock and roll, “Overruling Neo-Fascists”, and both every instrument is handled with considerable aplomb. Listeners and lovers of Schneider’s more overt rock tendencies will flock to the track “Surreal Survivor” despite it being a re-recording of a track from earlier in Schneider’s recording career. There’s an especially hard hitting quality about this number that’s lacking on the album’s other guitar work outs. Elliot Schneider’s Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basketcase is a thoughtful and expansive album with understated ambitions and the talent to hit whatever lofty peaks he sets for himself.