The Urban Anthropologist


Jesse Malin
Glitter in the Gutter
Adeline Records

The 13 songs on Jesse Malin’s new album Glitter in the Gutter are like the musical equivalent of the gritty observations found in an urban anthropologist’s tattered notebook. At his best, Malin is a candid storyteller who conveys raw vulnerability, the dark underbelly of city life and the broken beer bottles found in the wake of shattered dreams.  At his worst, Malin comes off trite and clichéd like on the affected preciousness of “Little Star” and overdone romantic ode “Lucinda,” which is a not-so-subtle reference to his former lover, alt-country singer Lucinda Williams. Thankfully, the good outweighs the bad and Glitter proves to be a pleasing amalgamation of well-worn rootsy rock n’ roll, lonesome prairie ballads and quirky pop with a rebellious DIY punk spirit that permeates each song. “Tomorrow Tonight,” which features Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme on guitar, examines the tension between living for the moment and the fear of moral repercussions and personal guilt. The nostalgic “Broken Radio” is a melodic, bittersweet duet with Malin’s idol Bruce Springsteen and includes Ryan Adams on guitar, while the regretful “Happily Ever After” is a glossy revamping of  “Since You’re in Love” that first appeared on 2004’s The Heat.  Go see Jesse Malin perform live Monday, June 18, at Café Du Nord.
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