As musical director for Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds throughout the 1990s, multi-instrumentalist Mick Harvey did a credible job helping others find their voice. And as post-punks maturing into musical purists in the days after the riotous Birthday Party, Harvey and his collaborators strove both for immediacy and timeless arrangements, replete with strings and pianos. On his own, Harvey remained the stylist, his solo work limited to an homage to Serge Gainsborough. On this proper solo debut, Harvey finds his often autumnal voice in other peoples songs (Tim Buckleys The River, Jeffrey Lee Pierces Mother of Earth) as well as his own. His touch as an arranger is light: a gently strummed guitar here, a minor-key piano chord or string section there, allowing the songs to ring with home-studio immediacy. Demon Alcohol may not be the best vocal performance Harvey barely sings at all, instead just repeating the title with a mix of defeat and resolve but it shows the perennial sideman finding his own clean, well-lighted place, albeit in a dimmer spotlight.
Hobey Echlin writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.