Greg “Schatzy” Schatz has made a name for himself as one of New Orleans’s key singer-songwriters and, ironically, he got there by tearing himself down. Schatz was among the first in the vanguard of mid-2000s roots-rock party bands that specialized in blackly humorous tales about their own inability to be responsible. And it struck a simultaneous sad and funny chord. Schatz practically constructed a cottage industry based on hangovers.
His latest solo album isn’t much different on the surface. It leads off with a red herring called “Not Even Close” that has Greg’s fingerprints all over it: rock, country, jazz, blues, R&B, that little touch of Latin he always spices things up with, and at the literal heart of it all, a girl he’s never going to be worthy of. But then he pulls the camera back and spends the rest of his time painting the entire species as terminally flawed, with the threat of robotics and digital-age automation as The Guy She Tells You Not to Worry About. On “Amoebotics” the girl we don’t deserve is the future itself.
The loping, insanely catchy, vaguely Tex-Mex, “I’m Building a Robot” (“who’ll take my place building robots”) establishes the theme, while the other half of his thesis is the equally ear-wormy “I’m an Animal.” There’s also a pair of matching instrumentals in the buzzy, farty algorithms of “Mechanism” and the relaxed lounge and squirming guitar of “Protoplasm.” “Amoeba” is probably the most charming song ever written about the brain-eating amoeba. “All I Do Is Ooze” is definitely the most charming song sung from the point of view of a brain-eating amoeba. Greg’s not outlining a dystopia, just having some fun with the inevitable, which is why his de-evolution ultimately lands him in the source of all life, “The Water”—to which, he seems to suggest, we’re destined to return.