- 09 Sep 19
Hot Press first crossed paths with New Yorker Jesse Malin when he toured his debut solo album – after his nineties stint with glam punkers D Generation – The Fine Art Of Self Destruction way back in 2002/3. He’s been ploughing away ever since, with records like 2007’s Glitter In The Gutter which, as well as including a contribution from one B. Springsteen, had a song called ‘Lucinda’ about the “proud poet’s daughter”.
He’s now collaborating with the same Lucinda Williams who produces this collection as well as doing a bit of singing and writing. Their duets - the ballad ‘Room 13’, ‘Shane’ (a tribute to his pal MacGowan), and the swampy rocker ‘Dead On’ - are all lifted by Williams’ unmistakeable voice. She’s the not the only big name guesting either, Green Day man Billie Joe Armstrong turns up on the “long and lonely in the tenements of life” tale ‘Strangers & Thieves’.
The song writing dips here and there – ‘Chemical Heart’, ‘Shining Down’ – and Malin’s voice is an acquired taste, but there’s a lot to admire too, like opener ‘Meet Me At The End Of The World Again’ where our man comes on like a boogie-woogie Lou Reed in the verses, or the gentle I’m-off-on-the road-isms of ‘Gray Skies Look So Blue’, and ‘Do You Really Wanna Know’ gets a groove going with help from Catherine Popper (The Cardinals, Jack White) on the bass.
Perhaps best of all is the pedal steel driven ‘Promises’ with its chorus asking to “call a cab for the last plane to tomorrow.” It’s the kind of ragged heartbreaker that brings out the best in Malin and it’s perfectly served by Williams’ sympathetic production, as is the rest of this record, which hits more than it misses.