Jesse Malin “The Fine Art Of Self Destruction” re release
Everybody should already actually own the original of this brilliant album. It’s a classic which sets the standard for ex punk, Americana, singer songwriters. If you don’t own it then don’t bother reading the rest of this review, just immediately go out and buy this re-release. For this review we will just look at the additional material that is on this version.
Many of them are demos or early versions of the tracks that feature on the original album. Therefore, we get stripped down versions of brilliant songs like “Almost Grown”, “Downliner” and “TKO”. Anyone who has seen Jesse live will already know that he often performs with just his guitar and sometimes an accompanying keyboard player. That’s pretty much the effect you get from these versions. The result is just to really emphasise how brilliant the songs are. Stripped to the essentials, you are left with the strength of the music and the power of the lyrics.
There are also some ‘new’ songs on the album, including “Bad Friday” which is a strong and emotional ballad that could have comfortably fitted on the original album. Songs like that and “Fallen Angel” are just great examples of how Jesse has a whole library of songs that are as poignant as any of his more well known contemporaries (yes we do mean Ryan Adams, who actually produced the original album). A particularly fine track is “Sorrow” which has a more produced sound and is one of the few on here with a full backing band sound.
In keeping with the main album, the songs tend to fall on the slower and pensive side. However, there is a glimmer of hope in the words of “Three Martini Lunch”. We also get to hear a great cover of “Hungry Heart”.
There’s not much more we can say about this album. As already stated, if for some crazy reason you don’t own the original then it’s already an essential purchase. For the existing fans, this is a chance to get even more great songs to add to your collection. Jesse Malin may have been commercially eclipsed by many of his peers but none of them are as capable of writing such great singer songwriter songs that are delivered from the heart.