Jesse Malin

One Little Indian, 2015


REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


If you're a fan of rock ‘n’ roll, there's no doubt that at least something in Jesse Malin's career has resonated with you. From his early days fronting the glam-punk band D Generation, to the short-lived project with Ryan Adams titled The Finger, or his most recent solo work, Malin has put out consistently great music across several decades. For me, it was his 2010 release Love It To Life, which was a criminally overlooked album that mixed anthemic rock with softer, romantic moments, and Malin's strong, mature lyrics. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

With that said, seeing as Love It To Life is about as good as it gets in my book, in the same league as Goo Goo Dolls’ Superstar Carwash or Tim from The Replacements, this new album from Malin had its work cut out for itself.

“Outsiders” leads the album off with emphasis on percussion and a breezier atmosphere. With a big chunk of the singing being la-la-la-las, it's definitely a far cry from the charged bar rock of Malin's earlier work. “San Francisco” follows and remains subdued, with a subtle groove that stays on the soft side and violins to boot. By the third track, “Same Old Situation,” the pace picks up and the garage rock influence comes through with wailing guitar solos and Malin's rugged yet melodic singing.

Near the middle, “Society Sally” adds some blues influences and horns, “Edward Hopper” leaves us with an island flavor complemented by tambourines, and “Whitestone City Limits” brings us some The Hold Steady-style piano rock. The campfire-esque version of The Clash's “Stay Free” is an album highlight, illuminating Malin's underrated vocals and his ability to play hushed songs as well.

The last few tracks offer more surprises as well, with the saxophone heavy “The Hustlers” and album closer, the six-minute country rock of “You Know It's Dark When Atheists Start To Play.” Sandwiched between them is another album highlight, the poetic, warm love song to New York “In The Summer.”

While only a little of this reminds me of The Replacements, (early) Goo Goo Dolls, or the work from Malin I adore so much, it's still a great album of diverse sounds from a raspy, gritty angle. Seeing as Malin is as prolific now as he has ever been (this was his second album in 2015), I'm eager to see what he does next.

Rating: B

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