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Songs of Vice and Sorrow

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Album Review

The love child of Mississippi John Hurt and Billy Childish, Julian Fauth is an interesting mix of the old, the very old, and the merely retro. "Cobalt," the opening track on Songs of Vice and Sorrow, is a punky, five-minute blues for heavily distorted electric guitar and ghostly harmonica that trades in the post-punk atmospherics of Nick Cave as much as it does the old Delta blues. (Fauth also bears a strong vocal resemblance to Richard Thompson at times, but never more so than on this particular song.) Other songs find Fauth pounding a rollicking Texas-style piano blues, assaying a handful of traditional blues and folk tunes, kicking it boogie-woogie style and throwing in a Mose Allison-styled, strangely tuned, soul-jazz piano pounder called "Spadina Avenue Stomp" in honor of one of his adopted hometown's major thoroughfares. That sense of local color is important: if Fauth was a middle-aged, balding Canadian dude trying to be "Mister Authentic Blues," that would be exceedingly lame. But from the Victorian ragamuffin cover photo to the weird mix of influences all over this double-album-length CD, Songs of Vice and Sorrow is a unique, idiosyncratic, and often fascinating statement.

Songs of Vice and Sorrow, Julian Fauth
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