Tim Rose

American Son

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Rose's final album -- he died about seven months after its release -- was admirable in its integrity, but not without its flaws. The cult figure's voice was still in reasonable shape, and recognizably husky if frayed, as he passed the senior-citizen mark. Tracks like the title cut had the hushed and slightly morose atmosphere of younger peers of his such as Nick Cave and Tom Waits, though with less of a ribald post-punk streak. The accompaniment is straightforward, downbeat, and spare, with little of the fussy accoutrements that veterans often try to add to make their sound more flashy and contemporary. But the songs aren't great, and Rose's world-weariness sometimes crosses the border into ill-tempered crossness. Themes of aging and bitter regret permeate some of the lyrics, and while those are issues worth investigating, on occasion he sounds more pissed off than articulately critical, as in "Tigers in Cages"'s rant against the descending quality of music and popular culture in the late 20th century.

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