A native of The Bronx--home of rap music and the New York Yankees--Jim Allen smashes the stereotype of the earnest folksinger strumming an acoustic guitar and singing about migrant workers. Steeped in country, folk and especially the blues, Allen is a singer-songwriter who combines Leonard Cohen's low growl with Richard Thompson's eclectic knack for genre-hopping.
Allen's debut opens with the menacing "Inchworm Blues," with biting slide guitar reminiscent of the late John Campbell. "Bottom Rung" and "This Blue" finds Allen slipping into lounge mode (a la Leon Redbone), bringing to mind images of a smoky speakeasy at 3 in the morning. Gram Parsons' spirit inhabits the dreamy lap-steel guitar and harmonies of "Hole In The Sky." Allen's greatest leaps come on "Magdalene" and "English Rose." On the former, he uses Irish instrumentation--Uilleann pipes and a bodhran--to drive a rollicking Cajun tune, while the latter sounds like a French cabaret song complete with squeezebox, clinking glasses and rowdy bar patrons who boisterously sing along.