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Glitter In The Gutter
If you cut Jesse Malin, he bleeds NYC. The powerhouse singer-songwriter has the same bravado, bullishness and bombast as his native city.
Mark Keane, 07 Feb 2007
If you cut Jesse Malin, he bleeds NYC. The powerhouse singer-songwriter – well, sorry, he “transcends the term singer-songwriter” according to the PR bluster – has the same bravado, bullishness and bombast as his native city. Now, on his third solo album, Malin has seemingly adopted the persona and sound of his New Jersey counterpart Bruce Springsteen.
The Boss actually guests here on the sombre but solid ballad ‘Broken Radio’. There's also a whole raft of other interlopers, including Josh Homme, Ryan Adams and Jakob Dylan. Malin stewards his guests though a punchy, epic, if occasionally overblown collection of rousing, rock 'n' roll numbers and robust slow dances.
As well as mimicking the blue-collar beefiness of Brooce, Malin sings in a whiskey-swigging drawl reminiscent of Steve Earle. Not that any of this is amiss on numbers as potent as ‘Black Haired Girl’ or ‘Little Star’, which both race by with a triumphant devil-may-care swagger. Similarly, ‘Lucinda’ and ‘Love Streams’ show Malin capable of raw moments of candour, as does the majestic piano ballad ‘Bastards Of Young’.
The album slips into by-numbers rock territory with the overdone ‘In The Modern World’ and ‘Prisoners Of Paradise’. Malin’s next step is even more puzzling; an attempt at Snow Patrol’s sweeping frothiness on ‘Happy Ever After’, which waddles along unconvincingly.
The affecting paean to post-9/11 New York, ‘Aftermath’, however, is a nicely gauged climax. Malin’s rough-and-tumble rock 'n' roll may appear a little hard nosed, but, just like his hometown, he wears his heart on his sleeve.