Mark Eitzel "The Ugly American" Tonguemaster TMAST 001 2003 (41:33)

Western Sky (4:58)
Here They Roll Down (3:37)
Jenny (3:19)
Nightwatchman (4:52)
Take Courage (3:23)
Anything (4:01)
What Good Is Love (3:13)
Will You Find Me (4:06)
Last Harbor (5:41)
Love's Humming (4:23)

Lately it seems Mark Eitzel has just been taking opportunities as they come.  He was invited to record albums in Chicago and Athens, served a month long residency at the Knitting Factory in NYC and will soon tour Portugal and Spain.  "The Ugly American" is the result of the trip to Greece and the debut album from the UK's Tongue Master (a U.S. release date is likely for June or July via Thirsty Ear).  Eitzel and his hosts refurbished eight of his American Music Club and solo songs spanning from 1987 to today, plus a new one and one written by producer Manolis Famellos.  Fortunately it still sounds like it should:  the inimitable Mark Eitzel performing his emotionally wrought song craft.  Eitzel is in fine voice and the Grecians' flourishes of plucked, strummed and sweeping strings are tastefully reserved, careful to add local flavors but not to overwhelm the songs.  Except maybe for "Here They Roll Down" as it's given a slightly bothersome bagpipe-like drone.  Classics such as "Western Sky", "Jenny", "Nightwatchman", "Take Courage", "Will You Find Me" and "Last Harbor" are as heartbreakingly beautiful as they've always been.  If nothing else, this album serves as a reminder of just how fucking great these songs are and preserves them with modern production.  "Anything" from 2001's "The Invisible Man" may very well be better than the original.  The new one "What Good Is Love" and Famellos' "Love's Humming" are far from sore thumbs and delve a bit deeper into Greek drama, musically and lyrically.  In the former Eitzel rhetorically asks "and if there's no way to love / the one that I love / then what good is love?" and in the latter cries "but oh the one she could hurt the most / she claimed his joy and ruined mine".  Unlike the hit and miss, half-hearted covers of "Music for Courage and Confidence", Eitzel has put all of his heart into covering himself ...

Mark Eitzel
Tongue Master Records

Where did I get this cd? - mail order via Amazon UK.

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