On Van Zandt's fourth album his voice hasn't yet attained the weary gravitas that made his later albums so shattering, but his dark, skewed visions of life are already in place. "Tower Song" is one of the minor key laments Van Zandt did so well, delivered with sparse guitar and subtle classical harp. The singer is leaving behind his wife and child, blaming her for the break up, although he admits he's a drunk and unable to communicate with her, except in song. "Where I Lead Me" is a dark folk-rocker that takes another jaundiced look at relationships with his characteristic bleak humor. "Rake" has the feel of a British folk song, the familiar story of an old soul adrift looking back on his youth with longing and regret. It has an epic feel augmented by the string section and a lone French horn. "Nothin'" is a bitter kiss off, a guy who doesn't want nothin' from a departing lover who he says gave him nothin', but there's more than a hint of revenge and rage in the lyric, and Van Zandt's flat, dry singing makes the tune chilling.
The title track, a country blues, is more lighthearted, and sounds like a ragged jug band tune. "Turnstyled, Junkpiled" is in the same vein, a Jimmie Rodgers' style love song; you almost expect to hear Van Zandt break into a yodel, but instead he starts talking like a drunken roadside philosopher. "Only Him or Me" and "Come Tomorrow" could be commercial country songs, but Van Zandt's hopeless poetry and aching melodies make them sound so blue they're hard to listen to. "Brand New Companion" is a boozy 12-bar blues, but something of a throwaway compared to the more chilling tunes on the album.
J Poet - AMG
|Brand||Fat Possum Records|
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