Mark Eitzel - Hey Mr Ferryman album review

American Music Club founder and Suede impresario create Brel-folk

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The Mark Kozelek you’d enjoy a beer with, Mark Eitzel was a revered slowcore pioneer with cult San Franciscan indie band American Music Club in the 80s and 90s, before embarking on a solo career encompassing stark acoustic Americana, dabblings in electronics and jazz, covers albums and collaborations with members of R.E.M., Sonic Youth and Yo La Tengo.

This tenth solo album features plush Jacques Brel orchestral production and trademark guitar atmospherics from Suede’s original sonic architect Bernard Butler, adding elegance to its artful folk-noir tales of desperate women driven to murder (the brutally ornate La Llorna), vampiric lovers (Nothing And Everything), fading TV stars (Mr Humphries) and death at the Vegas slots (sullen samba An Angel’s Wing Brushes The Penny Slots). Several navel-gazing songs about musicianship only cement Eitzel’s reputation as a songwriter’s songwriter, favouring tinkering with classic structures over tugging the low-hanging heartstrings or banging out honking great hooks, but this ferryman will definitely get fans of arch-folk to the other side.