In an era when many bands are going retro and trying to bring back that old style (Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, She & Him, etc.), Peter Wolf LIVED that old style (as the lead singer of the J. Geils Band) and his new album, Midnight Souvenirs, reflects his wisdom while being one of the year’s best albums.
With his Neil Diamond vocal appeal, Wolf channels his inner Country influences, diving right in with the first track, “Tragedy” featuring Shelby Lynne. The track begins with a soulful guitar that turns into acoustic strumming while Wolf almost sorrowfully sings about losing love. Lynne is the perfect compliment to Wolf, adding to the Country feel, which also includes some gospel organ.
The entire album has a very strong Country presence thanks to the guitars, harmonicas, pianos and straight-to-the-point storytelling songwriting. Another highlight is “Watch Her Move,” which along with all of those elements, features blues and soul elements quite prominently. Wolf’s scratchy and soulful voice is perfect for this track, especially with the dips in his voice.
Midnight Souvenirs takes an odd and uneasy turn when it comes to the 10th track, “Overnight Lows.” After emitting one sound vibe throughout the album, this track turns into a total R&B, baby-makin’ jam. Though “Watch Her Move” gives the listener hints that Wolf can accomplish this, “Overnight Lows” and the following track, “Everything I Do Gonna Be Funky,” abruptly flips the script which totally throws off the listener, until Wolf gets back on track with “Don’t Try To Change Her,” which continues the album’s main sound until the end of the album.
As Turrtle’s pick for 2010′s Album of the Year, Midnight Souvenirs is definitely worthy. Even though it probably won’t be my top pick, I can definitely appreciate its greatness. It’s a solid disc by a seasoned veteran who knows what he’s doing. The lyrics are soulful and meaningful and the arrangements are music to your ears. If that sudden funky, R&B jolt near the end didn’t completely throw off the listener, this album would be perfect.
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