Album: Paul Westerberg

Folker, VAGRANT
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The Independent Culture

Recorded entirely solo in his basement, Folker is described by Westerberg as a sort of acoustic rock'n'roll, akin to the light but punchy style Rod Stewart devised for his early solo albums. Westerberg has always had a soft spot for folk music - one of The Replacements' albums was called Hootenanny - and here the jangling 12-string guitars offer compact settings for his wry observations and classic pop melodies on tracks such as "What About Mine?" and "Looking up in Heaven". The latter is quintessential Westerberg, with a catchy chorus carrying a neat lyrical conceit; like most of his output, it's a hit waiting to happen, but whether it'll happen in his lifetime remains a mystery. While he shares some of Rod and The Faces' good-time loucheness, there's a more downbeat melodic approach: the chorus melody to "$100 Groom", for instance, echoes back, through his Singles soundtrack hit "Dyslexic Heart", to several Replacements songs. The mood is mostly downcast here, including an affec

Recorded entirely solo in his basement, Folker is described by Westerberg as a sort of acoustic rock'n'roll, akin to the light but punchy style Rod Stewart devised for his early solo albums. Westerberg has always had a soft spot for folk music - one of The Replacements' albums was called Hootenanny - and here the jangling 12-string guitars offer compact settings for his wry observations and classic pop melodies on tracks such as "What About Mine?" and "Looking up in Heaven". The latter is quintessential Westerberg, with a catchy chorus carrying a neat lyrical conceit; like most of his output, it's a hit waiting to happen, but whether it'll happen in his lifetime remains a mystery. While he shares some of Rod and The Faces' good-time loucheness, there's a more downbeat melodic approach: the chorus melody to "$100 Groom", for instance, echoes back, through his Singles soundtrack hit "Dyslexic Heart", to several Replacements songs. The mood is mostly downcast here, including an affectionate portrait of his father watching the big-screen TV Paul bought him ("My Dad"), and a regretful reflection on a ship he shouldn't have let pass in the night ("23 Years Ago"). But, as "Gun Shy" affirms, he's still spirited enough to play the teenage wolf, "Chasin' middle age/ And I'm pacin' in my cage tonight."

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