Review: Jesse Malin

Jesse Malin
“The Fine Art of Self Destruction”

The story goes that the prolific Ryan Adams was so impressed when he heard Jesse Malin’s new countrified songs that he offered to produce them — even though he’d never been a producer before — and six days later they had an album. Both figuratively and literally, Adams put his name on the disc. His producing credit is also prominently displayed in a bold font size (I’d say about a 19-point) on the back cover. Go look through your albums. Ten bucks says most, if not all producers are noted in a humble manner.

Sure, this was probably the record company’s idea to use the “Adams” brand to sell records, but I suspect it’s because he’s an egomaniac; a guy with a big head who lent his mediocre talent — Whiskeytown aside — to a friend. Malin isn’t blame-free. Hell, he wrote the mostly banal songs. The mainstream media’s comparisons to Springsteen and Paul Westerberg are far-fetched. Malin, former leader of  ’90s glam rockers D Generation, mostly strums his acoustic throughout this roots rock affair, singing about cigarettes and women. He’s reminiscent of Jay Farrar, especially on the opening track “Queen of the Underworld,” which along with the bouncy rocker “Wendy,” are the best he’s got to offer. The ballad “Solitaire” is just plain painful when he growls off-key, “I don’t need any-waaaah-un.”