Artist: John Ralston Track: "Ghetto Tested" Album: Sorry Vampire

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In similar fashion to Eels and Beck, singer-songwriter John Ralston doesn't tread far from the basics of accessible songwriting, but fashions each of his works with some fascinating bells and whistles. The structure of the songs on Sorry Vampire, out earlier this month, aren't any better or worse than earlier ones - they're just prettier, fancier and more fun.

In fact, the types of songs on Needle Bed, his 2006 release, and Vampire, really aren't different at all. Ralston's eager on both to testify about the idiosyncratic life we're all forced to lead.

What sets them apart is a less focused, more interesting approach that takes shape in new songs like "Ghetto Tested" and "Lesson I & II." On Vampire, Ralston sounds freer, bolder, more willing to take chances with layer, texture and the occasional electronic. Even when working with somre rather tired formats, the former frontman of The Legends of Rodeo has enough sense to dress up his work in some very alluring outfits.