412. Bill Janovitz – “Lonesome Billy”

Solo releases from lead singers of a favourite band can be a bit of a musical minefield, especially when they are side-projects rather than a new phase in the career.

Is said artist really the lifeblood of the band?  How much have the others been holding him back? And might that actually be a good thing, in that they have always curbed the excesses and plain dumb ideas?

There is enormous danger that such albums can be hugely self-indulgent twaddle where every whim of an enormous ego is inflicted upon those of us keen enough to have found the CD.

Buffalo Tom were certainly a big fave of mine, and I picked this solo effort up second-hand somewhere.  I have somewhat mixed feelings about it.  Close to half of the tracks do just feel like leftover BT tracks, and not overly interesting ones at that.

It’s when Billy boy gets more adventurous that the album becomes justifiable.  The rollicking country-tinged Strangers is a real blast and would never fit on a BT release, while his version of My Funny Valentine has a Waits-like sloppiness that appeals.

Thankfully this isn’t the frivolous or pompous outcome it could have been, and Janovitz’ rep stays intact.

An aside: In chasing up info for this review I discovered Bill’s blog. It is excellent and full of much better writing than you’ll ever see around here (and loads of cover versions).

File under: Befriend

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