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Cemetery Shoes

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Album Review

Despite Johnny Dowd's fixation with death, the 56-year old guitarist has inexplicable appeal on his fifth album, Cemetary Shoes. Beneath all of the bloodstained clothes is a man with superb axe prowess and a Nick Cave-meets-Tom Waits-meets-Tom Verlaine-vocal approach. "Brother Jim" is an offbeat, twangy rock/blues concoction that's as delightfully fun as it is peculiar, "Garden of Delight" is a blistering stomper and "Whisper in a Nag's Ear" is an eerie jazz-tinged offering. If the latter's chorus, "You're carrying a coffin!," makes it a must for all future Halloween parties, the creepy, Cramps-ian white trash barnburner "Rest in Peace" is equally worthy. At times, Dowd's obsession starts to grate — specifically on "Dear John Letter" where frenzied percussion uncomfortably meshes with his nightmare-inducing spoken word — but often enough there is magic in the midst of his morbidity. ~ John D. Luerssen, Rovi


Born: 1948 in Fort Worth, TX

Genre: Alternative

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

Singer/songwriter Johnny Dowd was almost 50 when Wrong Side of Memphis, his debut solo record of wracked country-folk-rock tunes, drew comparisons to Nick Cave in the alternative press. To a degree, that parallel was justified, as Wrong Side of Memphis devoted itself to murder songs and tales of doomed sinners. Dowd had grown up in Texas, Memphis, and Oklahoma before operating a trucking business in upstate New York, and his songs veered close to the source of American creepiness. Yet gallows humor...
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Cemetery Shoes, Johnny Dowd
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