Away from his native Arizona, Howe Gelb spent six months of last year in Denmark, where he recorded The Listener. The results sum up everything that’s most appealing and irritating about him. At his best he sounds spontaneous, fresh and unexpected. Yet at other times his quirky ideas can sound half-baked and his songs undeveloped. Back home in Tucson after his Euro sojourn, the Giant Sand/Calexico rhythm section of John Convertino and Joey Burns, The Handsome Family and Lambchop’s Mark Nevers all added their imprint.
Frustrating yet fascinating, it’s hard to think of anyone other than Gelb bold enough to release these demo-like recordings. You’ll be glad that he did.