Jesse Malin: Barlfy, Liverpool

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Jesse Malin keeps the fine art of storytelling alive in Liverpool, Alan O’Hare digests.


Stripped down and raw, Jesse Malin‘s songwriting proved itself top drawer in Liverpool on Sunday.
The New York native’s latest release sees him cash his chips in with a covers record – but that’s only half the story.
After arriving on the scene in 2002, with the Ryan Adams-produced The Fine Art of Self Destruction, Malin found himself in favour with the grown-up music magazines, but not the record buying public.
Even a single featuring the vocals one of Malin’s many heroes, Bruce Springsteen, failed to capture the attention of the US or England at large.
So, he bowed to pressure and – always one for throwing other people’s songs into his set – delivered an album full of covers in Europe (he’s more popular here than at home) and crossed the pond with just his guitar and keyboard player for company.
Which brings us to the Barfly in Liverpool, on Sunday night.
Malin was a revelation – in an age where some artists treat gigs like actual work, the New Yorker got stuck into the task at hand and laid himself and his songs bare for us all to see.
It was great – tunes like Hotel Columbia, Since You’re In Love, Wendy, Brooklyn and Black Haired Girl all connected with the 100-or-so crowd and the gig became vital. Something at stake. Know what I mean?
Malin is a delightful storyteller too and knows how to play the game perfectly – the way he wove a tale of bumping into Yoko Ono into the final verse of Aftermath, a song about the people left behind dealing with the loss of a loved one, was masterful.
Complaints? Not many – his voice isn’t the greatest you’ll ever here, but he pulls more emotion from one song than the so-called cool bands, playing across town on the same night, can only dream of.
If you think music is a form of mechanical engineering, then Jesse Malin isn’t for you. But, as an expression of what it is to be a human being, Malin’s tunes can soundtrack your life.

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