All the material on Whistling for Leftovers was written by the eccentric (in the good sense) multi-instrumentalist Frank Pahl and is here performed by his Scavenger Quartet. Four of the ten pieces were commissioned for a stage production of Shakespeare's The Tempest. If this music tends to be more dramatic, it still fits very well the artist's esthetics: neglected instruments (banjo, ukulele, toys), a slightly detuned or amateurish delivery, almost naive melodies. The presence of a rhythm section (Doug Gourlay, drums; Joel Peterson, upright bass) bring in a more dancing touch, as heard in the Forever Einstein-esque "Lucy's Piano," the funky "3-Legged Dog," and the warped hoedown "Leftovers." "Delirium Waltz," clocking at over 16 minutes, is by far the longest piece Pahl recorded in the late '90s. This suite-like collage was commissioned for a choreography. Some parts are pure delight (the opening whistled melody) but in the last third of the piece the listener looses the artistic purpose. It is good to hear Pahl back in an ensemble that has a sound homogeneous enough to perform, which had not happen since the heydays of Only a Mother (his previous solo albums collected various collaborations and studio pieces). Unconvincing collage attempts notwithstanding, Whistling for Leftovers has everything to delight his fans and enough quirkiness and haunting melodies to attract new ones. And one must point out the surprising artwork!
AllMusic Review by François Couture