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The Ugly American
undoubtedly set to be one of the unsung cult albums of the year
Phil Udell, 18 Feb 2003
Songwriter’s songwriter, cult artist, unsung genius – there have been many attempts over the years to explain why Mark Eitzel has never really set the commercial world alight, either solo or with the critically lauded American Music Club.
The plain facts are, however, that Eitzel has never really sold that many records, all of which means that, while he isn’t playing four nights at Madison Square Gardens, he continues to make albums as intriguing as The Ugly American.
Decamping to Greece at the end of 2001 to work with some local musicians, Eitzel’s initial intention to record a few tracks soon turned into a full blown album, one of the best of his career, a career he in fact visits throughout this album, with the likes of ‘Western Sky’, ‘Take Courage’ and ‘Last Harbor’ given stunning new arrangements. The background of traditional Greek instruments suits both the singer and his songs perfectly, and while the excitement levels never particularly peak, there is a grace and beauty here that few can match.
A happy accident it may have been, but The Ugly American is undoubtedly set to be one of the unsung cult albums of the year.