Back in 2000, oft-praised and seldom-seen Karl Wallinger had some momentum going again. The former Waterboy's recent Britpop efforts as World Party just didn't pop. Then Dumbing Up came along, a fine return to form with just the right amount of rockin' attitude and political spark. It would have been a fairy-tale homecoming, if not for the aneurysm that struck him down before the tour. Wallinger was left unable to speak or sing.
Six years later, Wallinger is finished with rehab and back on the road for his first tour in nearly a decade. The one-man band's performances have been unself-conscious; his hopeful, bluesy jangle has warmed up a largely tuneful set -- one inspired by everything from the psychedelic Beatles and midtempo Matthew Sweet to Dylan and the late Arthur Lee of Love. Wallinger's celebratory zeal has stunned audiences at South by Southwest and Bonnaroo, and his savvy songwriting and rapier wit have certainly been missed. In rare form despite the long layoff, Wallinger is playing a handful of dates, offering this brief glimpse of a true pop craftsman.