Peter Case - Doctor Moan

by Kevin Wierzbicki

Peter Case - Doctor Moan

Case was a founding member of fabled punk rock band The Nerves and his power pop band The Plimsouls had a memorable hit with "A Million Miles Away." But Case has long been, well, a million miles away from those sounds as he has for decades gravitated to rootsier music and was in fact one of the artists at the forefront of the early Americana music movement. Case begins Doctor Moan with the noirish "Have You Ever Been in Trouble?" where he describes how it feels to be in it deep, singing starkly and playing even starker piano. On "That Gang of Mine" Case portrays a man who looks around and finds out the world has moved on without him. Surprisingly "Downtown Nowhere's Blues" is upbeat and there's joy in the presentation despite the fact that, if you listen closely, there is darkness here too. There's a similar feeling to "Give Me Five Minutes More," a plea for a little room to straighten things out where Case adds a bluesy harmonica solo to the melody to accentuate the request. Case plays piano on most cuts but he picks up the acoustic guitar for "Wandering Days," an example of pure Americana styling. Case tackles the traditional cut "The Flying Crow," turning it into a funky blues that features organ work from sideman Chris Joyner. "4D" is an instrumental near the album's end featuring only piano; whatever inspired Case to write the cut was clearly not a happy occasion as sadness is palpable in his playing. The 11-song effort ends with "Brand New Book of Rules," an engaging cut that is perhaps the best example of Case's lyric writing on Doctor Moan.

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