Album review: Jesse Malin, Glitter in the Gutter (2007)


By Steve Newton

On his MySpace page, New York City rocker Jesse Malin quips that his music sounds like “mashed potatoes”, which makes a bit of sense, I guess. As well as being totally tasty, the music on Glitter in the Gutter, Malin’s third CD, is comfort food for the mind and soul.

The fact that it also rocks your socks off is gravy.

From the uplifting opener, “Don’t Let Them Take You Down (Beautiful Day)”, it’s clear Malin has a knack for simply effective chord changes and melodic hooks, which he marries to messages of hope and happiness. He ramps up the rock on track two, the anthemic “In the Modern World”, which tells of a woman named Marylin who’s “queen of the scene in a humble abode by the Bowling Green”.

Malin mellows out a tad on the ultrapoppy “Tomorrow Tonight”, which features snazzy guitar work by Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age; then he puts on a serious face for the stark piano-driven ballad “Broken Radio”, a vocal duet with Bruce Springsteen.

Other guests on the CD include Ryan Adams, the Foo Fighters’ Chris Shiflett, and Jakob Dylan, who adds sweet harmonies to the sing-along ditty “Black Haired Girl”. Dylan’s multiplatinum band, the Wallflowers, often comes to mind via Malin’s incisive lyrics and jangly melodies, so if you’re the type of person who’s ever tapped a toe to “One Headlight”, put Glitter in the Gutter on your shopping list.

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