From the first line of Whatever, Mortal, "I am a whore wayfaring stranger," Dave Pajo establishes himself as the heir to the poetry and myth of Leonard Cohen. With bare, moody folk music that recalls Songs of Leonard Cohen, Pajo strips his emotions and pins his heart to his sleeve, whether he's singing of family on "Over Jordan" ("I'm coming home to see my brother") or (like Cohen) mocking his failed sexual encounters on the Astral Weeks-esque "Sorrow Reigns." "Roses in the Snow" captures a bittersweet happiness like the classic "Hey, That's No Way to Say Goodbye" and "The Lass of Roch Royal" has the afterworld sorrow of "Who by Fire." But Pajo is no imitator -- he simply follows in the great tradition of folk poets. Pajo has his contemporaries, notably Miighty Flashlight, Songs: Ohia, and the more bombastic Bright Eyes. But Whatever, Mortal is nothing less than one of the defining folk albums of its decade, worthy to be placed beside Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, Cohen's Songs From a Room, and Bob Dylan's later work like Time out of Mind and Love and Theft.
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AllMusic Review by Charles Spano