David Rosenbloom & the Outlanders

Title: Mysteries

Label: Independent

The Rundown
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One hopes that the music industry's pundits and publicists have given up the tiresome game of trying to anoint the next Bob Dylan. For better or worse, the Powers That Be broke the mold after they made crotchety old Mr. Zimmerman. But David Rosenbloom and the Outlanders prove that there's plenty of rich territory to be mined in the reaches of poetic folk-rock. Rosenbloom's traditional melodies and song forms, unpolished vocals, simple instrumentation (complete with expressive harmonica) and lo-fi production all make his debt to Dylan obvious. Echoes of Townes Van Zandt, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen and even Elvis Costello also ring through the twelve songs on "Mysteries." And speaking of Neil Young, songs like "Best Believe" and "Man of the Shadows" feature distorted electric guitars that gallop like Crazy Horse. But most of all it's his lyrics, with their religious overtones and their unsentimental examination of the mysterious human ability to punctuate stretches of inexplicable gloom with flights of spontaneous joy, that place Rosenbloom in the great tradition of the late 20th century poetic masters of song. "It's a pleasure, a pleasure to wonder/it's a fine thing to ponder and dwell/but to enter your own soul and plunder/is a crime that no man can tell," he writes in "Plunge Not Into the Abyss." But digging deep into the dark regions of the human condition is a crime this band is clearly not afraid to commit. "Blood is the proof of God's grace/see the wound punctured into his side/the world took one look at his face/and felt better once he had died" is Rosenbloom's subtly distorted take on Christianity's founding myth, for example. If at times his colorful imagery shades into purple ("The world's disorder is in full rehearsal/as madness through a rabid mongrel sings"), it's a small flaw in a fine project that shows there is a lot of artful noise yet to be fashioned from the sturdy raw materials of American song.