Martin Carpenter has been honing his brutally honest pop-rock sound since he played in his first garage band in the seventh grade. Small-town Northwest Missouri provided most of the life lessons that shape Carpenter's music today. Though country music loomed large in the jukebox of his past, Carpenter has yet been unable to shake his true love - pop music. Sheepish, Martin's solo debut, finds him channeling the bee-stung sincerity of Elvis Costello and Matthew Sweet rather than the tear in the beer truckstop numbers one might expect based on his previous work. With Columbia, MO's The Little Achievers, Carpenter had carved out a solid country niche that drew comparisons To Uncle Tupelo, Steve Earle, and the Replacements. On his solo debut, Sheepish, Martin Carpenter mines new territory and has produced a lush work that harkens to the shimmering jangle of artists such as The Church, Galaxie 500, and The Bat with a dash of early Modern English, Psychedelic Furs and even the Cars. Spanning a wide stylistic spectrum, from lackadaisical laments to sweeping, enticing rushes of pure pop satisfaction. There's certainly nothing lacking in the spare, well-crafted songwriting or Carpenter's frequently beauteous (and ever-breaking) shaggy-dog voice which brings to mind a blend of Leonard Cohen and Lloyd Cole. Backed by the solid rhythm section of Mitch Fecht on bass & guitar, and ex-Head Candy drummer Jim Viner. The albums sound harkens back to some of the best moments of 80s college radio. Martin Carpenter plays a straightforward pop/rock firmly rooted in new wave, though owing no small debt to '60s. -Paisley Pop.