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“Emoh” gives Lou Barlow a chance to shine all by his lonesome

Lou Barlow will mostly be remembered for his work in three of the most influential bands in modern rock.

Barlow first found fame with Dinosaur Jr., one of the most praised bands of the grunge era. After leaving the group in 1988, he devoted his time to his side project, Sebadoh, which he started during Dinosaur Jr. because bandmate J. Mascis would not let him write songs.

Sebadoh established Barlow as a lo-fi king – most of the recordings sounded straight from the bedroom. Still, Barlow competed for song-writing duties with Eric Gaffney. So, Barlow started another side project, the Folk Implosion, which had a fluke hit, “Natural One,” from the soundtrack to the film “Kids.”

After 20 years, Barlow is finally on his own. Though he has put out solo efforts before, including some under the moniker Sentridoh, “Emoh” is hyped as Barlow’s first official solo album.

What separates “Emoh” from past Barlow releases is that Barlow made “Emoh” to be a whole record.

But the lo-fi king has left his throne. Barlow ditched the dubbed-tape recording style for one much cleaner. This has a negative effect on the album. Barlow’s songs have always lured listeners with intimacy. Without the soft fuzz in the recording, that seems to have disappeared.

Barlow does prove he has been saving some great songs during the years. “Emoh” contains several intricate one-man symphonies.

As a whole, “Emoh” is a letdown. While Barlow crafts some enduring melodies, his songwriting is, for the most part, predictable singer-songwriter.

Though Barlow has struggled to find a consistent musical outlet for his songs, he does much better when balanced by other musicians.