With each step he takes past his years as frontman to the J. Geils Band, Peter Wolf builds on his legacy as a solo artist of remarkable distinction. Bits of the jive caricature of his early years surface on Sleepless, especially when reunited with his old running buddies Keith Richards and Magic Dick on "Too Close Together," but most of the album documents much more skillful and sensitive approaches to interpretation. In fact, in his ability to slide from singing to a spoken word or two and back again, Wolf affirms his mastery of the Bob Dylan method for bringing a lyric to life. The musical settings throughout Sleepless vary dramatically, from roadhouse country on the highway epic "Nothing but the Wheel" through Mexican romanticism on "Oh Marianne" and to raw blues with a Tom Waits edge on "Homework." In each of these, Wolf's voice, recorded bone dry and boosted high in the mix, flawlessly nails the feel; on one track, the Stax-flavored ballad "A Lot of Good Ones Gone," his performance -- reflective, understated, delicately phrased, and soulful -- compares favorably to some of Van Morrison's best work. It is, in other words, about as good as a performance can be in this genre.
AllMusic Review by Robert L. Doerschuk