Friday, January 29, 2010

Music Review: P.W. Long - God Bless The Drunkard’s Dog

“Come on come one and Shake what you got. Well easy does it, cause it looks like you got quite a lot.” - "Shake" by P.W. Long on God Bless The Drunkard’s Dog.

P.W. Long has been around the indie rock scene for years. In the early 90s he was lead man in the band Mule and after that he had a trio called P.W. Long’s Reelfoot that included the drummer from Jesus Lizard. However, for the past four or five years he has been doing the solo thing, and he definitely knows how to do that.

God Bless The Drunkard’s Dog is P.W. Long’s fourth solo album and is a catchy blues-fuelled rock CD. P.W. screeches out like a mixture of Joe Cocker and the Black Keys, playing catchy southern rock and blues, similar to Jon Spencer Blues Explosion with a bit of T Model Ford.

The album is full of jangly guitars, playing traditional blues licks filled with smoke. Drums lay down a solid base of despair as P.W. sings songs that he must have written on the roadside, near a garbage can fire, after a day of frustration. The spare instrumentation, the album is played almost exclusively with just guitar and drums, gives God Bless The Drunkard’s Dog an intimate feel. Because of the lack of layers it doesn’t take long to get to the core of the songs, to hit the point. And the point seems to be P.W. wants you to shake your butt a bit, bob your head, and sneer.

The lyrics are a bit Frank Zappa, a bit B.B. King and a bit Bruce Springsteen. According to the liner notes in the CD, P.W. wrote the lyrics and then had them translated to different languages by local college students, and then back to English by other students. The translations revealed differences in wording and emotion and P.W. kept some of the translated words in the songs and changed some of the titles around. The songs get better with repeated listens to the album. You get caught up in the dirty groove and backwoods preaching. The album takes you to that place where you embrace your sorrow and revel in it, play the foil perfectly and mess with everybody else, cause you got a little bit of heartbreak inside that you need to hide.

The best tracks on the disc are “Crazy Tonight” and “(Let ’em) Roll” because they are just pure hook. Stripped down rock and roll that beats on your chest, pumps you up and puts that stone cold stare in your eye so you will go one-on-one with any one in the room. The next best songs are “Sweetest Weirdo” a quirky love ballad from your local coffee shop troubadour and “Owed (To The Next Life),” which is probably the most traditional bleeding heart, blues, love song on the disc.

The delivery of the 13 songs on God Bless The Drunkard’s Dog doesn’t change much, but it’s really effective when it does. I could definitely see some hotties dancing and getting it on to this album, so it’s effective that way too. But, mostly, the album is a straightforward rock/blues swaggerfest that is tough but likeable.