Monday, 17 April 2006

Album Review: Jacket Full Of Danger

It's been an eventful year for Adam Green. He's gained a baby brother (24-years his junior), faced the death of a close friend, endured a Max Carlish-esque documentary-maker-turned-stalker episode and taken a job at Starbucks that he was subsequently fired from. The result of this joy, tragedy and lunacy is his fourth album, Jacket Full Of Danger.

While the baritone croon that Green perfected on last year's Gemstones is still present and correct, he's almost completely abandoned the anti-folk instrumentation with which he made his name. For this new album, Green's band are assisted by a string quartet, a move which ensures a splendid instrumental base to more traditional big bands tracks like Pay The Toll, Animal Dreams, Hollywood Bowl, and the overblown Bond-theme stylings of Hey Dude, the track in possession of the album's weirdest lyric: "Bob Dylan was a vegetable's wife."

It's not just the addition of strings that makes Jacket Full Of Danger Green's most diverse album to date, White Women, which takes its lead from Led Zeppelin's Kashmir, is Green's first attempt at tackling heavy rock, even beginning with the outrageously over-the-top stadium rock line, "You know I wanna bone you!", while Vultures is backed by a graceful bassline straight out of Ben E. King's Motown heyday, and Novotel's tale of the celebrity lifestyle is driven by a precise R&B rhythm. Later, on Nat King Cole, Green's band offer the rockabilly of Buddy Holly, while he performs his best Elvis Presley impersonation. Cast A Shadow, a Beat Happening cover, is a more straight-forward indie-pop gem and is followed by Drugs, the track where Green's arch humour and deep pathos best combine.

Most of the songs don't run for more than two minutes, and the album's fifteen tracks are rattled through in little over half an hour. Perhaps Green, with his vocals more deep and distinct than ever, is worried about outstaying his welcome, but he really ought not to, for few songwriters are able to balance wit, style and invention as intelligently as Adam Green.

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