James Jackson Toth: Waiting in Vain

Toth’s psychedelic combo Wooden Wand provided a promising template for this, his solo debut, but despite his persistent croon and a decidedly dark ambiance, it’s far less cryptic than that previous project. Toth enlists a back-up band with considerable credentials – among them, members of Wilco, Deerhoof, Vetiver and Geraldine Fibers, as well as his wife and foil, Jexie Lynn. – giving him plenty of room to maneuver within their fluid arrangements. “Nothing Hides,” “Do What You Can” and “Midnight Watchman” seem somewhat innocuous on first glance, but there’s a sinister subtext in Toth’s tales, with shady characters, worrisome encounters and a general air of pervading doom tainting the atmosphere. Indeed, lyrics like “Cocaine and bourbon, pinball and pool – look in on me/Don’t leave me to face the slow death of a fool” and an inside cover photo of Toth cradling a revolver confirm his shaded intents. Swagger turns to stagger on the woozy ballad “Poison Oak” and the aforementioned ode to decadence, “Look in on Me,” but overall, this is a most assured collection and a distinctive one at that. (Rykodisc)

Ryokdisc website


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