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The Heat

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Album Review

With New York City in his back pocket once again, Jesse Malin continues his serenade to lost loves and forgotten opportunities on his second album, The Heat. He kicks his best buddy, Ryan Adams, out of the production seat to take care of things himself and once more cuts apart his honest heart. Isn't that why most become musicians, to deal with the fear of loss and regret? Their wounded soul becomes their art and a way of dealing with the bad hand they got dealt. It's good therapy for most artists and a cold-water cure for a lot of music fans, but relying on that formula itself doesn't automatically make a great record. The Heat goes through the motions of telling stories and Malin is a charmer with his self-pitying poetics. Songs such as the false sexual gratification of "Arrested," the rompish skip and run of "Mona Lisa," and the haunted political errors of "New World Order" are loaded in affection and raw roots rock. Malin's drag racer-like desire to find some kind of solace with love is even more fierce on "Hotel Columbia," an excellent piano-guitar dalliance that never lets up. But no matter how much The Heat yearns for common ground, Malin's songwriting suffers somewhat. He's skilled and inventive with his work as a musician, but the aches and pains of songs like "Swinging Man" and "God's Lonely People" fall short of what Malin delivered on The Fine Art of Self-Destruction. It's as if he's reaching for something, but uncertain of what he's supposed to be reaching for. That's okay. The Heat is only Malin's second album and shouldn't be categorized as a slump. Sonically, he's progressing into a real cowboy balladeer without dismissing his punk days. The desperation of "Since You're in Love" makes this evident; however, lyrics like "I'm still sad over you" aren't poignant enough. Malin has what it takes to write a really beautiful love song, one full of love's usual blood and guts. Perhaps he's terrified — like most people are — of owning up to the fear of losing it or never having it?


Born: 26 January 1968 in Queens, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Jesse Malin is a songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist who has more than one musical personality, having made a name as a thoughtful and introspective singer/songwriter in his solo career as well as playing raucous, over the top rock & roll with the band D Generation, though heartfelt and street-smart songwriting is the common element in all of Malin's work. Born January 26, 1968 in Queens, New York, Malin was just 12 years old when he joined his first band, handling vocals and guitar for the New...
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