David Poe: David Poe (Ulftone)
RECORDED in 1997, but only released on this side of the pond earlier this year, this debut album reveals an American songwriter revelling in the darkness of his own designs. Produced by T-Bone Burnett and featuring an eclectic bunch of musicians including Mark Ribot and his ace angular-sounding guitar. Poe's considered tunes and lyrics are redolent of Elvis Costello at times, displaying musical intelligence and a startling line in post-relationship bitterness. At his best, on tracks such as Settlement and Reunion, he is moderate and descriptive, while his anti-racist Cop is cleverly restrained. However, Silver Eyelashes pulls no punches, describing in detail why he figures his former partner deserves the ultimate sanction. Sure hope he's happier these days as he joins former Squeeze man Glen Tillbrook for shows at the Roxy (Waterford) next Friday, Roisin Dubh (Galway) on Saturday and HQ in Dublin on Sunday.
Ryan Adams: Heartbreaker (Cooking Vinyl)
With Whiskeytown on hold following a label merger, the band's songwriter retired to New York where his separation from his girlfriend provided the inspiration for this brilliantly downbeat collection. Ryan Adams is only 25, but his voice and his songs seem the product of much greater experience. For this recording he was joined by friends such as Gillian Welch and her partner David Rawlings, plus Emmylou Harris and Kim Richey. But this is not a big, over-produced package; the songs are heartfelt and simply displayed, a whisper of b-3 Hammond over gently strummed guitars and anguished vocals. He calls it a rock'n'roll folk record and perhaps it is, especially when he lets loose, as on To Be Young (is to be sad, is to be high) or, more typically, sings wistfully on songs such as Oh, My Sweet Carolina or My Winding Wheel.
More CDs reviewed in tomorrow's Weekend supplement.