Putting aside for the moment the ‘Lo-Fi’ elements of this album and focusing on the man and his music, he is a songwriter of rare intelligence and a documentary maker – in music – unsurpassed today.

All these songs tell stories of America. The seamy, the poignant, the downright ridiculous and the heartbreaking – all are grist to his pen and he seems to love the people he writes about, even when he is at his most acid.

His voice is warm but there is a tired element on songs such as ‘The Great Divide’ or ’10,000 Miles’ but he pours all his emotion into it and the result is heartwarming. But then he hits you with ‘Elvis Shot The Television’ adding a funky sounding boogie to his story of the day that Elvis, bored and wired, shot the TV in his Las Vegas hotel room – a good enough songwriter that you can see, feel and even smell the song.

‘Bird of Youth’ sees him playing some fine and dirty guitar – a guaranteed live monster if ever there was one.
Personal favourite is ‘2 Jacksons’ – a Jackson is a $20 dollar bill – which describes in sumptuous detail the jacket he bought for 2 Jacksons and the shop assistant that caught his eye.

For this album the understory is that he deliberately went down the Lo-Fi route, recording using valve equipment, cheap 50’s and 60’s guitars such as Silvertone and Danelectro and overloading the electronics to create a focus on the songs and not the stellar playing and production. Normally I am unimpressed but he is good enough to have created a very special vibe on the album and actually achieved his goal of focusing on the songs.

All told, a very fine album and well worth the ‘hardship’ of searching out all the obsolete kit to make it.


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