Neil Hamburger: Still Dwelling (Drag City, 2019)

June 20, 2019 at 6:09 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Neil Hamburger: Still Dwelling

The latest from America’s Funnyman is one of those albums where he sings. It’s not quite the sequel to Neil Hamburger Sings Country Winners, but it’s along the same lines — the songs are basically all about how much of a lonely, pathetic loser he is. But like that album, this is remarkably well produced and arranged. Aside from a version of Paul Simon’s “Homeward Bound”, he largely steps away from country, instead going for more of an epic ’60s orchestral pop sound. He turns a Mark Eitzel song (“Lonely”) into something that sounds like it could’ve been sung by Tom Jones, and he covers “Everything’s Alright” from Jesus Christ Superstar, with Jack Black playing the role of Judas and Mike Patton as Jesus. He covers “Standing On the Corner” (“watching all the girls go by”) and “The Straight Life”, seemingly oblivious to how their lyrics simply wouldn’t fly today. Perhaps the funniest song here is the over-the-top rendition of “World Without Love”, and the album ends with a backhandedly optimistic original called “Little Love Cup”, with the moral of the story being that “nobody loves a hater”. While this might be the grandest, most accessible musical statement Neil has made, it’s still probably a lot funnier if you’re familiar with the character’s backstory. My favorite albums of his are still Laugh Out Lord, the absolutely brutal Hot February Night (performed in front of an unsuspecting crowd of Tenacious D fans), and the underrated radio drama Great Moments at Di Presa’s Pizza’s House. This isn’t on the level of those, but like all of his albums, he’s doing something a little different and adding to his strange, hilarious legacy.

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