John Doe – Dim Stars, Bright Sky

Former X rocker swaps urban noise for pastoral reverie

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Grudgingly admitting that his new album might be slightly “alt.country”, John Doe adds that it’s “more Elliott Smith than Gram Parsons”. Suffice to say that it’s a collection of mostly slow-moving, often acoustic-based songs underpinned with a lingering aura of melancholy. Doe’s voice is warm yet weary, frequently framed by acoustic guitar and plinking piano, sometimes battling it out with fuzzy guitars and clattering drums, and intermittently thickened by harmonies from guest stars including Jakob Dylan, Juliana Hatfield and Aimee Mann. If Doe intended to create an interlocked set of pieces that sustained a mood of pensive reverie, he succeeded, though there’s a marked shortage of ear-grabbing, individual songs.

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