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Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea – Silver Jews

by Aidan Roberts

If the soul of Allen Ginsberg was given a guitar and 12 chords, it may sound something like this. Silver Jews, headed by the curious and enigmatic David Berman, deliver their 8th album with aplomb; this is a jaunty and swaggering affair; the loosely arranged tragi-comic ballads knocking shoulders with beer-hall romps. Aloysius, Bluegrass Drummer bounds along with its devil-played-violin urgency, and Suffering Jukebox is a melancholic traveller, launching the album into a kind of modern commoner’s folk, affectingly middle-class and knowing. What makes these guys most intriguing is the delivery of the lyrics; Berman is certainly a respected poet among the Nashville indie scene and abroad, and these songs paint a canvass of anecdotal fairy tales which really swing, and resonate with commonly held sentiments (See Berman’s attack on fashion Strange Victory – “what’s become of the fat ones, the bald and the goateed'”). Where there is perhaps a lack of adventurous instrumentation to keep the musical flavours crackling, there is a lot of heart in this stuff, an immediately likable collection of songs from one of the assured US bands of our time.

***1/2