DEAN WAREHAM – ” I Have Nothing to Say to the Mayor of L​.​A “

Posted: October 17, 2021 in MUSIC

Dean Wareham has been sounding like this since Galaxie 500 first plugged in 1987, but it’s a timeless style that dates back to Lou Reed meeting John Cale. Wry musings sit atop gently strummed guitars, punctuated by mostly elegant — but sometimes ragged — guitar solos and the occasional hilarious one-liner. Through Luna, Dean & Britta and a solo career, Wareham has never really changed his tune and you wouldn’t want it any other way. Like the oxford shirts he favours, it never goes out of style.

“I Have Nothing to Say to the Mayor of L.A.”, which is a great title, is Dean’s first album of original songs in seven years. For it he’s surrounded himself with able collaborators: Jason Quever of Papercuts produces and adds welcome splashes of organ, cello and guitar, Dean’s partner Britta Phillips lays down bass, keyboards and backing vocals, and drummer Roger Brogan keeps a steady beat. This team really bring out the best in the songs which, as usual, are terrific. This is Twilight Time music, with Dean in especially reflective mode. “Tonight I am playing my three-thirty-five while gazing at your photograph,” he sings on “The Past is Our Plaything” (the album gets its title from the song’s opening line), adding “We’re living inside a beautiful dream / a winter where memory sleeps.” There’s lovely, swelling pedal steel that really compliments the song’s chorus and is as perfect a match for Dean’s reedy voice as Britta’s harmonies. Likewise, the swirling keyboards on “Cashing In” give a feel of hazy memories. There’s a definite mood here.

Wareham is a master of the simple solo, perfectly imperfect, and the guitar-work across the board is just terrific, from the snaking leads that run through “Robin & Richard” to the wonderful arpeggiated filigrees on “Cashing In,” to the very Galaxie 500-esque squall on his cover of Lazy Smoke’s 1969 obscurity “Under Skys” that sounds meant for Wareham to play. The other cover, also from 1969 Scott Walker’s “Duchess” — is equally as sublime, dialling things down from Walker’s original just a smidge.

The album ends with “What Are We Doing in Vietnam?” a song that dips a toe in political commentary, by way of stoned existential musings, and self-deprecating urban ennui. It’s also got a rhyme only Dean would make, a joke that only makes sense when you read the lyrics (and know guitar chords): “why are we in Tripoli? / Why are we in Baghdad? / Why am I stuck in Echo Park / Writing songs in DADGAD.” Stretching out across five languid minutes, it’s the kind of song you can imaging going twice as long live, hearkening back to Galaxie 500’s cover of Jonathan Richman’s “Don’t Let Our Youth Go to Waste.” It’s an album that wonders about youth and where it’s gone, but Dean doesn’t seem to miss it, all while still circling around those same basic chords he began with.

10 songs: 8 brand new Dean Wareham compositions plus covers of Scott Walker and Lazy Smoke, these are Dean Wareham’s first new songs since his eponymous solo album in 2014.

Produced and mixed by Jason Quever. With Britta Phillips (bass, keys, additional production), Roger Brogan (drums), Jason Quever (guitar, keys)

Released October 15th, 2021

The Luna and Galaxie 500 frontman keeps on strummin’ on his first proper solo album in seven years. Wouldn’t want it any other way

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