Jesse Malin - This Heat
"Scars of love,
All your hawks & doves & boxing gloves"
"Scars Of Love"
I like Jesse Malin. In a world filled to the hilt with constructs & fakes, Jesse Malin is authentic: Hardcore credentials (Heart Attack, D-Generation), the ability to write songs Springsteen would be jealous of - & a voice so wracked with emotion it can bring a grown man/woman to his/her knees. What more can you ask from for an old school punk disenfranchised by the scene that made him?
2002 was almost laid to waste by the release of Jesse's effective debut solo outing, "The Fine Art Of Self Destruction". Close mates with such six-string connoisseurs as The Damned's Brian James, Jesse Malin has the talent, the pedigree & the swagger to succeed convincingly where others have merely fizzled.
This week saw the release of Malin's second self-produced solo LP, "The Heat" - 14 cuts of prime time inner-city-storytelling of the highest order. In a nutshell - Malin is NYC - in the same way as the Ramones, Television & Suicide - & much later - MMM USA, Hamell On Trial or The Star Spangles. Classic NYC R&R.
"The Heat" develops Malin's sound towards its natural conclusion. If he was Paul Westerberg fronting 'Gates Of The West' era Clash on "The Fine Art Of Self Destruction" - this time out he's got the E-Street Band behind him (admittedly, retaining the imaginary services of Mick Jones on the ballsier numbers: "Swinging Man", "Scars Of Love", "New World Order", "About You", "Hotel Columbia", "Indian Summer"). Solidly mid-tempo but with a trio of affecting ballads ("Going Out West (for Jenny)", "Block Island", "Basement Home"), "The Heat" sees Malin boiling over with maturity - as if the future of rock n roll was resting in his hands alone:
"Buddy Holly told me you can't save rock n roll,
it's only for the lonely boys & girls"
The perfect balance of power and beauty is a difficult trick to pull off without sounding either ham-fisted or insincere, but Malin walks this particular tightrope with confidence. He's another incurable romantic, notably not a prolifically successful one either. His songs are stuffed with longing & regret. You kinda get the feeling Malin has not been anywhere near as lucky as Kylie.
Every cut on "The Heat" hits its target with lazer-guided accuracy. It's a slow burning incendiary of an LP. The music invades the brain as if by osmosis - repeated listens are wrapped around the ears like a comfort blanket. In a world sadly void of romantic visionaries (stand up, MMM USA) - Jesse Malin will surely dry your tears, tell you everything will work out just fine in the end - & push you out to face the bright lights & the music all over again.
There is an inner strength to Jesse Malin - one he transmits via his music. In a world full of vacuous bores, Jesse Malin is the stranger you met at a party you were never invited to - & ended up talking to all night.
tMx's very own Suburban Kid caught Jesse live in London only the other week & was not only blown away by the show - but also the man behind the music. Apparently Jesse is as genuine in real life as he is on a stage - or in a recording studio, for that matter. Guess what they ended up talking about? The Clash.
Melancholic, but eternally hopeful. Believe in yourself - you are all you've got.
Jean Encoule - tMx 15 - 06/04