The Howl Sessions (Mott Street)
Solo album 3, in a recording career going back to 1991 isn’t a frenetic release schedule, but it’s worth waiting for something this good.
His vocal style alone would make this worthwhile, even if he was singing the equivalent of the telephone directory, for his warm, lived in voice, is a treat. However, he knows how to write a memorable tune as well. Amongst the many highlights here are the tragic “Morphillia (A Girl I Knew)” and “Wish You Were Here (Postcards From Hell)”, which show a depth of lyricism rarely heard these days. How can you go wrong with an opening stanza of;
You told me I’m going to Hell
I’m finally here and doing swell
I’ll send you a card ‘wish you were here’
‘umm humm, down here
He is well respected enough to be able to call on some well connected players to help bring his vision to life, with Rob Burger (Rufus Wainwright, Norah Jones) on organ, Joe Quigley, (Shawn Colvin, Lisa Loeb) on bass, Mike Presta, (Counting Crows, Melissa Etheridge) on drums and Richard Barone, (Lou Reed, Patti Smith) on bongo's, amongst others.
But it’s to his credit that his songs and voice rise above the backing to make a righteous claim for respect in his own right. A truly excellent release.