When Adam Green affected a weird, Jim Morrison/Sinatra crooner persona on his second solo album, 2003's Friends of Mine, I thought it was a cute, somewhat naïve attempt at setting himself apart from the indie-rock pack -- kinda like how Don Cheadle's character rocks that Sun Ra get-up in Boogie Nights' New Year's Eve scene. And it worked -- or at least it worked better than his comparatively straighter "anti-folk" debut, 2002's Garfield. On album numero three, last year's Gemstones, Green embarked on another persona-shift, becoming a folk-country-pop troubadour. Now on Jacket Full of Danger, Green's reverted to the full-on crooner mode of Friends of Mine, flexing his handsome baritone over the course of fifteen melodic, string-drenched songs that clock in at just more than a half-hour.
Count 'em up, kid: That makes four albums in five years. Solo, Green's been as prolific as fellow Moldy Peach-for-life Kimya Dawson. But let's talk about quality for a second: Green's first three albums sucked. Garfield is a shit-bucket for real, an arrogant abortion of an album that sounded as if it were conceived, written and recorded between bong hits on some wasted Sunday afternoon -- the pathetic ramblings of a loser in mental cruise control. The other two albums had their moments, but on the whole, they're blanks. Jacket Full of Danger is his first actual good one (not counting, of course, the monumental The Moldy Peaches). Throughout Jacket Full of Danger, Green shows frequent flashes of a heretofore underutilized knack for sweet, pithy pop melodies. Consequently, its short songs cohere, whether they're countrified mini-ballads, acoustic sing-alongs or Morrison-at-the-Whisky big-rock come-ons. In sequence, they sound like the soundtrack album to some bizarre lost Hollywood musical from the '60s.
Musically and melodically, this is the best work Green has ever done (even counting The Moldy Peaches -- which isn't to suggest for a second that Jacket is the superior record). Lyrically, though, it's the same old Adam Green bullshit. You've got your typical absurdism ("Bob Dylan was a vegetable's wife/ Game over hope you had a good life") mixed in with jokey odes to the "funny little ladies" Green wants to bang ("White Women," "Hairy Women") and, oh yeah, drugs ("Drugs"). I'll admit that the juxtaposition of these goofy lyrics with the dramatic string sections that accompany most songs registers somewhere on my chuckle meter. ("C-Birds," for example, begins "I see [brief pause to build drama] a college town [bunch of cellos going dun-dun-dunnn, like the killer's identity has just been revealed]." Chuckle chuckle.) But it's still frustrating that Green's heavily echoed and foregrounded vocals never say much of anything in particular. That's not a decisive knock on him, of course -- I like this album plenty for its melodicism and wit, and I'm staggered that it's coming from the same dude that puked out Garfield. But, like I said, frustrating.
Artist: http://www.adamgreen.net/"Nat King Cole" video
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