On “Stop All the World Now,” his first album recorded for Epic Records (his debut, “Australia,” was self-released, and reissued by the Sony label), Howie Day sounds like the work of someone drunk with the possibilities of the studio. Densely layered, the production overwhelms Day’s slight, underbaked songs.
At the Roxy Monday night, Day (who initially made his mark as a solo performer) pulled back from the orchestral overkill of the album, fronting a four-piece band. Their modest performance nudges him into regular guy, John Mayer territory — a more comfortable fit for the carefully tousled 22-year-old than the album’s Radiohead and Travis aspirations — but cannot keep the music from being anything more than pedestrian.
Generic titles such as “Sunday Morning Song” and “Trouble in Here” highlight Day’s limitations. Trundling along at a consistent midtempo pace, eschewing detail and metaphor, the songs lack an identifiable personality. He sounds most himself during his mid-set solo turn, using loops and tape effects to concoct cascades of pretty guitars and vocals on “Sorry, So Sorry” and “Ghost.” And oddly enough, while the songs are nothing special, he writes quite lovely codas for “Take You In” and “Perfect Time of Day.”
With their earnest yearning, it’s easy to imagine Day’s songs showing up during a dorm-room scene on “Gilmore Girls” or playing while “Joan of Arcadia’s” Amber Tamblyn fetchingly bites her lip, trying to decide between following God’s dictate or hanging out with that cute guy in her chem class. But at this juncture, his songs don’t hold up to close scrutiny.