John Doe’s ‘The Westerner’

Latest Album Captures Southern Arizona Vibe

Inspired by time spent in Tucson while friend Michael Blake (author of Dances with Wolves) was dying, this album’s solemn strums, jangly riffs, and locomotive rhythms nail that Southern Arizona vibe. Poignant “Sunlight” presents a musically rambling odyssey with a strong lyrical narrative tethered to Blake. L.A. punk icon Doe duets with New York post-punk royalty Debbie Harry on “Go Baby Go,” a Springsteenian barn burner (circa The River) recorded after Doe’s X toured with Harry’s Blondie in 2013. Instrumentally resembling latter-day Wilco, “A Little Help” proves haunting, with pinpoints of country twilight throughout. Closer “Rising Sun” captures a melancholy dawn as Doe’s warbling sketches Roy Orbison. Sonically, the cliché, desert-sounding ditty, as a heart-wrenching tale of loss, “Alone in Arizona” makes a sturdy case for this album’s existence. “My heart’s in California. I’m alone in Arizona,” a dazed Doe repeats methodically. By album’s end, you’ll feel the same.

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