Detroiter Tony Fink, shedding his grunge-band past, makes a major leap into the singer/songwriter mainstream with Mayowulf, his first solo effort. He is joined by a host of Detroit scenesters such as Jamie Monger and Scott McClintock from the Great Lakes Myth Society and Adam Walker from the Twilight Babies. Fink's accomplished acoustic guitar work is enhanced with guests on harmonica, bass, drums, synthesizers, bowed handsaw, and a 1970 Volvo for percussion. Showing maturity both in its music and in its lyrics, this is an album that speaks of an aging sensibility, an awareness of the passage of time and its broken hearts, hopes, and loves. "Becoming Petrified" brings the theme to light, with its opening stanza, "I am the light in the rain/I am no stranger than pain/I am a startling whisper/I am a cold blooded shiver." Fink's mournful vocals soar over a delicately plucked acoustic guitar and Nate Bynum's bass. "Strung-Over, Hung Out" is another track with a similar theme. It's a song of regret about binging on alcohol, and the ramifications of one's actions. "I know its getting bad when I can't make it to work til eleven/I don't even think I crashed until quarter to seven." But the tone of the album is not a sad marking of the passage of time, there's a definite charm in the grooves. "Skankz Need Jesus" tells the story of a man who had his heart broken by a less-than-perfect woman who needed some religious counseling. Of course, in Fink's vernacular, its much funnier. "The Rest You Want" begins with a mile-a-minute rap about waiting tables before changing into a driving guitar, bass and drum jam, reminiscent of Julian Cope's "Kolly Kibber's Birthday," topped off with a Spanish trumpet line from Ryan Nolan that kicks the track into the upper reaches of godhead. "Estelle," which follows, begins with Fink summing up the previous track with a spoken "that was great" before plucking a simple acoustic melody that is picked up by Bynum's banjo and percussion created by hitting various parts of Fink's car. Yes, it's a love song to a car, and with the subtle word play, becomes one of the highlights of the album. Mayowulf is an excellent example of a songwriter having found his feet and heading out for a long walk to use them.
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AllMusic Review by James Mason