John Doe

A Year in the Wilderness | Yep Roc
By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  July 17, 2007
3.0 3.0 Stars
insidejohndoe
The seminal American punk band X specialized in songs about love on the skids or on skid row. As a solo artist, X co-leader Doe has broadened his perspective and geography, but he’s still an unabashed romantic. On his winning sixth solo album, he’s a lonesome coyote howling for his mate (“Big Moon”), a skunk paying for his stinking behavior (“Unforgiven”) — and on “The Meanest Man in the World,” he sings about a potentially murderous rat with warm, gentle detachment. Despite such familiar themes, Doe’s emotional menagerie has grown more colorful as he’s revived his poetic strengths. On “Grain of Salt,” the lines “My only hope is that someday soon/You’ll press your palm to my chest/And the warmth of your hand/Will draw out the stone/That wakes me every night” imply a mix of toughness, vulnerability, and wistfulness more appropriate to a fairy-tale prince than an LA rock rebel. Yet the black-leather Doe materializes in “Hotel Ghost,” a snarler set to the churning guitars of Dave Alvin (whose former group the Blasters were X’s LA roots equivalent), and isn’t far beneath the surface of “The Golden State,” a duet about the rough-and-tumble nature of true love, with Kathleen Edwards subbing for Doe’s X-mate, Exene Cervenka. The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, Dylan pedal-steeler Greg Leisz, Aimee Mann, and Jill Sobule also take guest turns, but it’s all Doe’s show.

John Doe | T.T. the Bear’s Place, 10 Brookline St, Cambridge | July 27 | 617.492.BEAR
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