"Everybody wants to be James Dean," Joe Rohan quavers midway through These Days. He's talking about nonmusicians -- if he were writing about fellow singer-songwriters, he might have sung, "Everybody wants to be Jonny Lang." Everybody wants to have the blues -- even when their hard times are barely a light shade of aquamarine.
A drummer turned solo artist, Rohan still has a foot in the coffeehouse circuit. Between far-flung shows across the country, he regularly plays Flannery's pub downtown, working out acoustic-based originals between classic-rock covers. Yearning becomes bliss on These Days, in the stronger songs. On tunes like "Evangeline," soulful Black Crowes frontman Chris Robinson emerges as a primary influence. Revamped as a swing tune, Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire" makes this set list, with Mark Leach's Hammond B3 organ replacing the mariachi trumpet. Rohan's second solo LP goes down like a dish of vanilla blues with a whiskey chaser. Vanilla may be plain, but it's good.