Jeffrey Altergott's "Balloons" Eleven songs that float far above the folk-rock landscape Chicago music scene veteran Jeffrey Altergott sounds as singular as his supple tenor, or his sweet mix of rock, folk and jazz rhythms. And though he loves Aimee Mann, Duncan Sheik and Andrew Bird, he's truly his own melodic, infectious invention-confection. How appropriate that his fifth and latest disc bears the title "Balloons." From the much-lauded 2000 LP "Icarus Grounded" (featured everywhere from the Chicago Tribune to the Discovery Channel) to this cloud-skimming new disc, Altergott always aims high. He yearns to break free, transcend boundaries ... and take listeners with him for the ride. Produced by drummer Chuck Harling (Roxy Swain, Ellen Rosner) and engineered by Mike Hagler (Wilco, Neko Case, Lloyd Maines), "Balloons" gathers 11 songs, played by the crack trio The Whole Fantastic World. Harling and the Nashville young-'uns Daniel Sherron (guitars) and Craig Hamilton (bass) are joined on "Balloons" by prominent guests including horn deity Paul Von Mertens (arranger-bandleader, Brian Wilson) and Chicago alt-rocker Heather Perry. On the glorious title track, Jeffrey captures the contradictions we feel as soaring souls stuffed in flesh-and-blood cages: "Maybe if I can embrace / things about myself I hate / it would be less a coffin and more a womb." Altergott sounds meditative and hopeful on "Dandelion," a post-Paisley trip that blends electric piano and phased guitar like wild sprouts bursting from the dark earth. Closer to reality - reality TV, that is - Altergott takes on tabloid journalism with rapier wit and a kick-ass beat in "Dismal Voyeurs": "We've got reality / We've got hospital / We've got the crime-scene drama / Could it be that we're addicted to trauma?" "Balloons" picks up where his tender 2007 acoustic predecessor "Don't Be a Stranger" left off - but with dashes of swagger and playful shuffle that marked Altergott's 2004 release, "Runt." Altergott fleshes out two songs from "Stranger" with startling results. "Every Day Is a Reason" grafts earnest lyrics about the struggles of a gay couple onto a free-gallop backbeat: "Sticks and stones may break our bones / We're still a family anyway." On the more whimsical side, "Kickstand" - filled to the brim with those juicy Mertens horns - sounds like it was channeled from an enchanted swing-era radio in an antique-shop corner. Altergott has garnered high praise from the likes of WXRT-FM deejay Richard Milne (as a "Local Anesthetic" capsule pick, the Chicago Reader and LinuxTag - which handpicked the title song from "Icarus Grounded for it's first OpenSource compilation CD, released in Europe. Recently, "Don't Prove Me Right" won 1st place in the 2009 Bilboard Song Contest for Fan Favoirte and has received radio play on BBC Radio Lancashire from host John Barnes who was the first to introduce Altergott to the UK.