By Barry Gilbert
Of the Post-Dispatch


October 21, 2004

The Silos
"When the Telephone Rings
Dualtone Records

When the godfathers of alternative country and modern roots rock are invoked, the name of Walter Salas-Humara is rarely included, and that's a real injustice. Born in Florida to Cuban exiles, Salas-Humara has been making rocking, earthy and complex music since 1985 as the chief songwriter and singer of the Silos.

"When the Telephone Rings" is the band's ninth CD, and it finds Salas-Humara, now a longtime resident of New York City, paying a subtle tribute to his hometown and America post-9/11.

The title song, inspired by Japanese haiku, is the only song that mentions New York by name. The rest of the CD deals with such values as love, family, work and staying true to yourself and the world.

The first five songs -- maybe even all of them -- are like children's medicine: You don't realize the message is good for you until several tastes of the involving music. "The Only Love," "Whistled a Slow Waltz," "Ready for Anything," "Holding on to Life" and "Innocent" work their magic without cliché, pandering or even a dollop of goopiness.

"The First Move" is about love and sex regardless of age, "Take a Hit" takes a look at songwriting and "Dumbest on Parade" celebrates pursuing life with an open heart.

Salas-Humara is supported by current Silos Drew Glackin on bass and lap steel, and Konrad Meissner on drums, with former Silos Amy Allison (vocals), Mary Rowell (violin) and David Boyle (keyboards) pitching in.

"When the Telephone Rings" deserves to be answered. If there were any sense in the music business, this would be the Silos' big breakthrough.