John Doe at Neurolux

John Doe, June 20, Neurolux” 

By Katy Dang

Boise Weekly | June 13, 2007


Photo by Autumn DeWilde

As a member of the legendary band X, John Doe created a unique sound that set a flame under the ass of rock and roll and elevated it to new heights. In his solo work, he’s cultivated a rootsier sound with more of a twang, but the fire still burns bright. His new release, A Year in the Wilderness, gives us more of what we have come to expect. It’s a solid, familiar sound that remains distinctive.

Doe surrounds himself with vastly talented collaborators. It’s great to hear Dave Alvin’s soaring guitar. Ditto Dan Auerbach and Chris Bruce. Of note is singer Kathleen Edwards, who chimes in and evokes the great country voices—a Lucinda without the gravel road in her throat. Their duet “The Golden State” is a highlight of the album, as is the tale of “The Meanest Man in the World.”

The sound is looser and more raw than in recent releases. Doe’s songwriting is in top form, providing characters that you seem to know from somewhere and conjuring images that put you right in the place he describes. He still writes great love songs, with lines like “You are the lump in my throat / I am the ache in your heart / We are tangled.”

Doe plays American music: it sounds like the land, and tells the stories that happen in those vast landscapes that you pass through on a road trip. And, in true Doe form, there are at least two songs that may find you dancing drunkenly on the back porch with someone you love.