Mother Jinx Records
Left of Centre, Strictly Personal and Experimental Takes on the Great American Songbook.
WOAH….WOAH……and thrice WOAH there! This album from New York’s finest experimental Alt. Country Crooning troubadour is as far from ‘Radio Friendly’ and/or commercial as you can get; and even fans of the great man himself will listen with jaws hanging in wonderment as Johnny Dowd tackles a bizarre collection of songs from the Great American Songbook in his own inimitable style.
The album opens with something called Execute American Folklore, Again which Dowd wrote himself and isn’t for the feint hearted as this twisted slice of Beat Poet induced Electronica has a searing Hard Rock guitar spine and Dowd sounding like a man demented.
This is immediately followed by a scary version of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star that will make my youngest Granddaughter burst into tears should she ever hear it. AHA! It was on the second play that I ‘got it’…..and remembered a series of long lonely nights in my teenage bedroom trying to ‘understand’ Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa records; especially Yellow Brick Road.
If you’ve got as far as track three The Cuckoo; which sounds like it was recorded inside the Hadron Collider; ‘understanding’ where Dowd is coming from is way down your list of priorities…….just get comfortable, turn on, tune out and let the vibes take over.
Just like those crazy cats before him Johnny takes classics like St. James Infirmary Blues, Rock of Ages and Tom Dooley turns then upside down, inside out and injects them with Hip Hop sensibilities, Beat Poet cool and Germanic Electronica in a way that will frighten the horses but make your heart beat like you are having a coronary.
Trust me, you’ve never heard anything like Dowd’s Country drawl over a dark beat box and razor like synthesiser on House of the Rising Sun. This ain’t nothing like the Animals version; and like everything else here nor is it intended to be.
If I have to choose a favourite; and for continuity’s sake I will; I will go for Oh, My Darling Clementine which is as near ‘commercial’ as anything gets here; as Dowd duets with Anna Coogan over a bizarre electronic Native American beat…..yep; it is that weird; but fun none the less.
Everything comes to a scary conclusion with Dowd narrating Job 17: 11-17 from the Bible no less and something I’m not overly familiar with; but strangely making absolute sense in this context.
Who knows what the intended demographic is for this amazing record as many of Dowd’s core fan base will be horrified at the experimentation here; but there will also be many out there who have been steadfastly hunting record shops around the globe and on the Internet for something so left-field it nearly comes back on itself; and this is for them; boy is it for them…..and God Bless Johnny Dowd for having the courage to record and release this awe-inspiring record.
Released January 15th 2018