In his later years, legendary lyricist Sammy Cahn took to the stage to perform myriad of his songs solo, interspersing them with a running commentary that kept audiences enthralled, all captured for posterity on his An Evening with Sammy Cahn album. Adam Green's Jacket Full of Danger album casts a similar spell, even without a spoken commentary. The singer/songwriter may indeed be a Cahn for a new age; he has similar gifts for lyrical construction and turns of phrase.
However, Green also graduated with honors from the story-telling school of songwriting, listing Hank Williams, Roy Orbison, and Chet Baker as inspirations. You can hear traces of them all in his vocal delivery, with a touch of Elvis Presley to boot. Musically, however, Green's far more eclectic than that roster implies, and his range of influences is quite extraordinary. The melody from Lou Reed's "Street Life" pumps through "Nat King Cole," a Chuck Berry riff barrels through "Hollywood Bowl," the drone of the Velvet Underground's "Venus in Furs" fires up "C-Birds," the Gershwins infuse "Drugs," while Motown soars with "Vultures." And it's Motown-styled orchestral strings that sweep through much of the set, to turn many of the song's arrangements inside out. In contrast, the lyrics reflect Green's jaded, cynical world view, along with a sometimes tart take on women, and a mouth that at one point is so foul it would make Lenny Bruce (or Ol' Dirty Bastard for that matter) blush. In any event, the songs instantly get under your skin, both musically and lyrically, and all told, Jacket is an exceedingly clever set, but one that doesn't call attention to just how smart it is. Definitely not your typical singer/songwriter, Adam Green is so much more than that, and this album has a classic, timeless feel to it, brilliantly drawing from divergent musical traditions (much like the Gershwins in that respect), twisting from them an unique but incredibly familiar sound. Green's past albums have all been enjoyable affairs. This one, however, is a masterpiece.