John Wesley Harding

Adam's Apple

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Four years after The Confessions of St. Ace, John Wesley Harding re-emerges with the finest album of his career. Wes is as witty as ever on tracks like "Sluts," a wry funky rock nod to hedonism, and the offbeat story-song "Sussex Ghost Story," where love turns to murder, and various producers (including Fastball vet Julian Raymond) give him a rich, melodic canvas to paint superb pop soundscapes like "Pull" and the blissfully crooned "Negative Love." Come to think of it, Harding's voice has never sounded better on melodic midtempo numbers like the organ-peppered "Nothing at All" and the vibrant, riff-filled "It Stays." While the quirky "Protest Protest Protest" comes off as an amusing novelty that examines the differences between 1960s activism and the politics of today, some could argue its tech-laced production affects the flow of the songs it rests alongside. Nitpicking aside, from the perky, orchestrated opening of "Monkey and His Cat" through to the devotional parting ballad "When You Smile," Adam's Apple is a disc worth biting into again and again.

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