Once called ‘America’s greatest living lyricist’ by The Guardian, Mark Eitzel certainly knows his way around metaphor and allegory. The ferryman, in question, is quite probably the same Charon that Nick Cave grappled with on The Boatman’s Call. However, Eitzel is far wryer than Cave - on the title track he sings ‘Hey Mr. ferryman, do you party where you’re from?’ - and the sonic and lyrical approach to matters of life and death has more in common with Eels. Vinyl comes with an indies-only bonus CD, which is cool.
- LP £21.99
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- LDECOR40LP / Limited indies only 180g vinyl LP on Decor. Includes 12-track bonus CD featuring unreleased tracks and different recordings. Edition of 500 copies
8/10 Clinton Staff review, 25 January 2017
I can safely say that this is the first album I've ever looked forward to hearing that has Bernard Butler on it. It says something about the songwriting of Mark Eitzel that the king of over indulgence hasn't managed to ruin this record. Of course throughout he tries to sneak in unnecessary bluesy guitar twiddles especially on 'The Road' where it sounds like Gary Moore guesting on a Leonard Cohen record but generally he does the sensible thing and leave Eitzel to do what he's good at and only adding flecks of interest where necessary.
It's probably unfair to let my dislike of Butler disturb mine or your enjoyment of this record. Much of it is absolutely glorious. I sometimes think Mark Eitzel is the best songwriter in the world and at other times his music depresses me in exactly the wrong way. There's some stellar moments. I always love Eitzel's simple picked guitar and voice songs and 'Nothing and Everything' is truly trancendentally gorgeous, sprinkled with gorgeous dreamy backing vocals. I do wish Butler had used real strings rather than synth strings on the last few notes but it's a minor gripe on an extraordinary song.
Eitzel needs to make an album like this every few years where he's forced out of his comfort zone, Butler makes some odd production touches at times such as the drum machine on 'An Angel's Wing Brushed The Penny Slots'. But this seems to enliven and add colour to Eitzel's sometimes monochrome, deathly songs. Other than lively opener 'The Last Ten Years' this is a slow set with perhaps only 'La Llorona' upping the tempo somewhat with a distorted vocal and dirty blues feel. Elsewhere this is Eitzel being sad but breezy and also more varied in sound than usual....and that voice...oh that voice.
Further listens are sure to reveal more of Eitzel's always satisfying lyrical couplets but for now the initial impression of an always under-rated musician once again at the top of his game.
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