Jesse Malin

Sunset Kids

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At some point along the way, Jesse Malin stopped being a punk on the make and became a rock & roll troubadour. In the 21st century, old rock & rollers eventually wind their way toward Americana territory. Malin first got there in the early 2000s, spending time with Ryan Adams but eventually striking up a lasting friendship with Lucinda Williams. He wrote a song about her in 2007 and they found common ground in a shared love of Lou Reed and the Stones, a connection that eventually led to Williams producing 2019's Sunset Kids. Williams doesn't push Malin in new directions; indeed, the album contains "Meet Me at the End of the World Again" and "Revelations" from his 2010 album Love It to Life, but it does allow him to relax. Sunset Kids proceeds at an unhurried pace, giving Malin and his backing musicians the space to linger in both slow, soulful grooves and ramshackle shuffles. Some old friends swing by, too: Joseph Arthur pops up and Billie Joe Armstrong contributes to "Strangers and Thieves," a sly wink at the Clash that's one of the liveliest cuts here. It's a nice dose of rock & roll, but the heart of Sunset Kids lies at twilight, when the day is done, and there are some lingering regrets, but still a glimmer of hope. That bittersweet undercurrent is what lifts this album into the ranks of one of Malin's best records.

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