In the wake of the success of adult alternative bands such as Matchbox 20, Tonic, and the Goo Goo Dolls, there are bound to be countless imitators. Enter Mothertrain, a trio from Mayfield Heights that follows too closely in the footsteps of these multiplatinum acts. On the surface, the band's debut, Fool's Gold, has plenty going for it -- the vocal harmonies are well-executed, the songwriting's solid, and the playing competent. Singer-songwriter Dan Rose, who also plays guitar, mandolin, dobro, and banjo, writes infectious songs that have a bit of an alt-country feel to them. That said, there's nothing new going on here -- and little about his nonchalant vocal delivery that commands attention.
Rose inflects his songs with a rootsy, country-tinged flavor that's equal parts Tom Petty and Gin Blossoms. But if Rosavelt is a second-rate Wilco, then Mothertrain comes off as a second-rate Rosavelt. When it comes to writing breakup ballads -- which constitute most of the material here -- Rose simply sounds too detached. In the title track, he sings about feeling lonely at 4 a.m., but there's so little passion in his delivery you hardly care. The song's crescendo simply never comes -- the music builds throughout, but Rose isn't capable of delivering the knockout punch. He's not up to the task in other songs as well. In "Hurricane" (while the metaphor of love being like a hurricane is the same, it's not a cover of "Like a Hurricane," the timeless Neil Young rocker), he whines about being "on my knees for my heart," but fails to give the song an edge -- it comes off as yet another sentimental ballad about a relationship that didn't work out. Other tracks, such as "Virginia," "Breathe and Lust," and the sparsely beautiful "Lost" are fleshed out with keyboards and mandolins, but ultimately lack intensity.