This is a satisfying pairing of Half Japanese mainstay Jad Fair and New York City scenester Mark Kramer. Kramer's musical settings take Jad into new terrain, but like a polite and eager tourist, Jad takes it all in with enthusiasm and wide-eyed wonder. "If It's Okay" is a stately, near-chamber music piece wherein the music dresses up Jad's usual romanticism in matching sonorities.
Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller) shows up to sing on two songs, most notably Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues." The version is at once unexpected and perfectly natural--very subterranean, very homesick, and very blue. The set as a whole is the furthest Jad has ever been from punkish abandon (not Kramer's forte), but this very musical meeting ground makes ROLL OUT THE BARREL one of Jad's best--albeit atypical--releases.