Thursday, 15 February 2007

Album Review: Glitter In The Gutter

Having firmly readjusted himself from the outrageous punk role he concocted with his old band, Degeneration X, and honed his singer/songwriting talent with his two previous albums The Fine Art Of Self Destruction and 2004's The Heat, Jesse Malin all but perfects the art with this, his third album.

As ever, Malin writes locally but thinks universally and by recording an album - at least in part - outside of New York, Malin's experiences on Glitter In The Gutter create an even more global connection. Malin's desire to celebrate the underdogs, the social outcasts and the blue-collar workers has earned comparison with that other champion of the down-trodden, Bruce Springsteen. In fact, such is the nexus between the two songwriters that Springsteen sought Malin out after hearing him perform perform Hungry Heart on an Uncut cover-mount CD.

And it's inevitably the Springsteen duet, Broken Radio, that will engender the most interest in Glitter In The Gutter. The song is pure Malin poetry: a woman searches for salvation across the car radio dials. It's a song that is easily the equal of Malin's most poignant moment to date, The Fine Art Of Self Destruction's Brooklyn, but there's no denying that Springsteen's world-weary vocals add a degree of gravitas.

Springsteen's not the only notable musician to put in an appearance; Josh Homme of Queens Of The Stone Age adds some typically dissident guitar to Tomorrow Tonight, while the Foo Fighters' Chris Shiflett fires out some robust riffs on Prisoners Of Paradise and Jakob Dylan adds sweet harmonies to Black Haired Girl. Long-time friend and collaborator, Ryan Adams also appears on a number of tracks, playing electric guitar on Broken Radio, Little Star and In The Modern World, and offering acoustic guitar and back-up vocals on album closer, Aftermath.

Elsewhere, new single, Don't Let Them Take You Down, is Malin's most impressive rock number yet and there is a piano-led, plaintive version of The Replacements' Bastards Of Young, while Since You're In Love from The Heat gets transformed into Happy Ever After.

Glitter In The Gutter is Malin's finest work to date and proof that, three albums in, Malin remains a captivating and fearless storyteller.

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