Baron Vaughn’s debut album Raised By Cable is an hour-long set of highs and lows that will most likely polarize audiences. It’s not that you’ll either love it or hate it; it’s more that you’ll either find it highly interesting, or highly forgettable.
The Las Vegas native has a perspective that is wholly unique, and a personality that is generally likable. When he tones down his zany, high-energy side, he’s able to make astute observations and breathe comedic life into well-grounded premises. When he plays up that caffeine-induced persona, however, he makes things awkward; the consistently funny moments decrease and most of what’s left is Vaughn singing (which he’s very good at), making noises (also, good), but seemingly taking more pleasure in his act than seems appropriate.
Vaughn often milks bits too long. He regularly gets hearty laughs from a genuinely interesting premise, but then proceeds to beat the bit to death: Vaughn just goes on and on, sometimes breaking into song and modulating his voice for effect. Too often, Vaughn favors gimmicks that impress in the moment but ultimately don’t hold up during repeated listens.
When Vaughn is on, it’s a pleasure to sit back and listen. On “Picture Taker,” he observes, “what life in [Los Angeles] is, is just going back and forth from any place that anyone said has the best burgers.” And on “Travel Part 1,” he exclaims, “‘I realized that turbulence is sort of the sky’s way of saying, ‘You know, you really shouldn’t be up here.’” Vaughn turns simple observations into jokes that are simply funny.
But moments like these on Raised By Cable are spread too far apart. The album is 63 minutes long; 45 minutes of succinct material likely would’ve played up the rising comedian’s strong points.