Katie Euliss, 40 Watt Dreams (Squirrel Records)

Katie Euliss, 40 Watt Dreams, album cover

Since Truckstop Honeymoon’s inception a decade ago, Katie Euliss has written some dandies that have won the admiration of her contemporaries. Her nine-track solo debut is a better, unencumbered songwriting showcase since the duo’s other half, Mike West, only plays a sideman’s role on several stringed instruments. Interestingly, the arrangements blend the couple’s typical acoustic approach with a searing indie rock feel for feedback and distortion (“Bad News”), not to mention punk, pop, swing and jangly Byrds influences. Euliss’ songs seem autobiographical—a life’s scrapbook of adventures and picturesque characters met along the way. Leaving home at an early age marks a pivotal chapter, and without it none of this would be told now. Some of it is wistful, questioning life but with acceptance (“Waiting for It to Rain”), some of it flames with rage (“Should’ve Burned It Down”). Though Katrina has been the subject of many a troubadour since the storm, “Hurricane Song” is fresh enough not to feel like a broken record. Set in a bright and cheery major key, it intrigues with ghastly images of floating bodies and an analogy of being shipwrecked while on land. The last song, “Your Light,” is a happier one, suggesting that if you follow your 40 watt dreams, eventually they become fully illuminated.