Julian Schnabel

Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud

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Whenever an album is released by an artist well-known for his/her work in a non-musical medium, one is tempted to quickly dismiss the project as just another example of labels' crass attempts to move some product with the help of celebrity clout rather than musical talent (Dogstar, anyone?). Renowned painter/filmmaker Julian Schnabel's Every Silver Lining Has a Cloud, however, confounds expectations by working both as a "serious" piece of art and a very listenable album of left-of-center music. Not surprisingly, many of the songs here thematically echo the artist's other work. The lyrics often have an idealist's romantic bent, coupled with a resigned acceptance of life's harsh realities. Musically, although it's safe to say that Schnabel sounds unlike anyone else (his slightly out of tune warbling is a distant cousin to Johnny Cash), the closest stylistic touchstones are Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed, and the more adventurous work of Suzanne Vega. Producer Bill Laswell brings along his usual crew of enigmatic virtuosos, including guitarist Buckethead and ex-Parliament/Funkadelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell. Despite these musicians' usual propensity for "out" blowing, here they play for the song, delivering beautiful and sensitive, yet slightly skewed performances on every track. Schnabel's lyrics, however, are the real focus. Less heavy-handed than Cohen's and less cynical than Reed's, Schnabel's words possess a charming directness that many more experienced songwriters could do well to note.

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