Mastered By – Alex Perialas
Mixed By – Dave Hinkle, Johnny Dowd
Vocals, Instruments – Johnny Dowd
An anomaly in contemporary rock right from the start, Johnny Dowd, a 49-year old moving company owner, debuted in 1997 (in Europe in 1998) with this sparse (most of the songs feature only Dowd himself) and often morbid collection of country noir. More closely related to Nick Cave, Sixteen Horsepower, and Tom Waits than to Uncle Tupelo, Steve Earle, or The Jayhawks, Dowd’s twisted tales of murder, obsessive dedication, and other sinful behavior can be truly disturbing. The music is a fitting match for his lyrics: “Murder” sets the awkward tone with a hypnotic country-blues rhythm accompanied by Dowd’s distorted slur, as he reports a murder (“there’s been a murder here today, the weapon was a knife, the woman wore a wedding ring, I don’t think she was his wife”). “Ft. Worth, Texas” is the story of a convict on death row reflecting on his sinful life. The protagonist “shot and killed (his) girlfriend, then (he) sat and watched her die”. There’s no time for repentance (“there’s still too many people I hate”), although his only company is the ghosts in his head. The minimally executed and bluesy “One Way”, which contains several biblical references (a thorny crown, a sword in the side, the burden of the cross), is followed by “Sick Like a Dog”, one of the album’s scariest songs by virtue of its hypnotic percussion, eerie synths, and Dowd’s croaking voice informing us that “Momma Death ain’t got no respect”.
Songs like “Average Guy” and “Wages of Sin” are other ventures into the neo-gothic religion-obsessed worlds of Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood or A Good Man Is Hard to Find, and Nick Cave’s The Ass Saw The Angel, where mentally scarred outcasts try to live with their obsessions (often women, liquor, and their own sinful past).“Ballad of Frank and Jesse James,” i....... więcej