Like Ben Folds Five with a Broadway jones, the third album from David Yazbek, "Damascus," combines sardonic lyrics, strong melodies and plenty of ironic wordplay in piano-based pop that runs the gamut from rollicking swing to ballads.
Yazbek's no New York stargazer -- his previous credits include writing the music to the successful Broadway production of "The Full Monty" as well as jokes for David Letterman. With his raspy tenor, Yazbek sounds at times like XTC or Todd Rundgren, as he sings about everything from human evil to the masturbatory habits of pitching great Sandy Koufax.
Yazbek's talent is unmistakable throughout, and his detailed lyrics and dinner-theater-meets-Randy Newman aesthetic is infectious. Will real rockers take to Cole Porteresque numbers like "The Cowgirls Go to Santo Domingo"? Probably not, but "Damascus" is still a romp that sticks with you long after the curtains close.