Rich Whiteley’s self-penned compositions range from dance-inducing, sing-along ditties, such as “Raise the Roof,” to intimate, pain-soaked ballads, such as “Nocturnal.” In “Nocturnal,” Whiteley imbues lines such as “I’m listening to you breathing / Wondering what it is your dreaming / Maybe best I don’t know,” with a haunting chill. On other tracks, such as “Broken Bird,” and the title cut, Whiteley switches gears and addresses life’s pathos with a witty, John Prine-esque sense of humor that, at times, can be both hilarious and telling.
Whiteley and veteran producer/multi-instrumentalist Steve Connelly do an excellent job of steering the album clear of roots-rock redundancy. The guitar-bass-drum foundation is fleshed out with a stirring fusion of pedal steel, smatterings of electric guitar, slide-wah, mandolin, dobro and fiddle. A cross between Americana (Prine, Lyle Lovett) and jam band (Widespread Panic, Grateful Dead), A Dog or a Bicycle is a moving, amusing collection of songs concerning a young man finding himself in the world. In all, the album is a promising debut from one of Tampa Bay’s own.