Rhythm & Views

Kevin Costner and Modern West

If someone wanted to take a cheap shot at Kevin Costner, they could say he's made movies that weren't half as good or affecting as this fully realized collaboration between him, local songwriter John Coinman and ex-Tucsonan Teddy Morgan--but that would not be fair. (Even Waterworld has its fans.) In any case, Costner and his buddies have made a really solid album of Americana rock 'n' roll.

Costner acknowledges Coinman for pulling the project, personnel and most of the tunes together. With four guitars--two acoustic and two electric--violins and keyboards, and Tucsonan Larry Cobb on drums, the sound is big and crisp. And while there are echoes of Bruce Springsteen, John Mellencamp and John Fogerty in the air, Morgan's smarts and deft touch behind the mixing board keep the sound original and, best of all, interesting. Although Costner's vocals come with a slight nasal tone, his performance is authentic as he delivers these tunes as if they were his own. (Four songs credit him as co-author).

There are many highlights including "Superman 14," "Five Minutes From America" and the beautifully understated "Down in Nogales," all showcasing Coinman's work as a great contemporary songwriter. And lest you think this is a one-time vanity project, both Coinman and Morgan were recently in Wavelab Studio working on the next Modern West CD. While it's hard not to think of this as just another Hollywood rock 'n' roll fantasy (see Keanu Reeves and John Corbett), the results dictate that this kind of behavior needs to be encouraged.