Urban Urbane, David J's fourth full-length solo release, is nothing if not appropriately titled. Recording in New York and L.A., the Englishman sets tales of city life against cool, elegant backing. His playing and production have never been better, and he's ably abetted by such longtime co-conspirators as Max Eider (guitar), Owen Jones (drums), and even Peter Murphy, who sings backup on one song. However, the record is oddly split. The seven songs recorded in New York are mostly quite successful, especially the woozily atmospheric "A Man of Influential Taste" and "Smashed Princess." But the five tracks recorded in Encino are uniformly terrible. "Tinseltown" is a clichéd look at SoCal shallowness, and "Serial Killer Blues" and "No Faith" are sub-John Lennon material where J makes the mistake of trying to really sing. He's a fine vocalist when he stays within his comfort zone, but when he tries to cut loose he falls flat on his face. Some might be tempted to ascribe blame for this to Los Angeles itself, but that's probably unfair; more likely some kind of peripheral circumstances are at work. Whatever the reason, though, Urban Urbane has some nice moments early on but ends as a grave disappointment.
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AllMusic Review by Bill Cassel