Willy DeVille

Crow Jane Alley

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AllMusic Review by

It's hard to get a handle on what to call Willy DeVille's multi-genre music, though AMG writer Thom Jurek's description of "Spanish soul-inflected love songs" comes close. "Muddy Waters Rose Out of the Mississippi Mud" would be perfect for Rusty Kershaw, God rest his soul, a nice complement to the laid-back cover of Jay & the Americans' Top Three hit from 1964, "Come a Little Bit Closer" -- its presentation a wonderful nod to songwriters Wes Farrell and Bobby Hart. The evolution is startling 28 years after Mink DeVille gave listeners "Let Me Dream if I Want To" on the classic punk LP Live at CBGB's, and DeVille emerges as a major interpreter. The four minutes and 31 seconds of Bryan Ferry's "Slave to Love" may be one of the most distinct and unique adaptations of a Ferry tune put on record to date. Outside of the covers, the other eight tracks are Willy DeVille originals, "(Don't Have A) Change of Heart" liberally borrowing the melody from Kenny Rogers' hit "Lucille." "Trouble Comin' Every Day in a World" slinks and lurks around the corner with another stylistic change, sounding a bit like that other Willie from the same era, Bostonian Willie "Loco" Alexander. A sticker on the CD says "First studio album in 5 years!" -- though wasn't his previous "studio" disc (not including the live albums) Horse of a Different Color released in 2001? No matter; Crow Jane Alley is a very respectable collection from this journeyman, starting off with the single "Chieva" and continuing with DeVille's novel exploration of sound and clever merging of styles.

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