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Paleface

The Show is on the Road – 2009 (Ramseur)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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To call Paleface's backstory colorful is like calling the current economic crisis a slight correction. The singer/songwriter learned how to write songs from cult hero Daniel Johnston, helped found New York City's anti-folk movement (becoming the first within the scene to secure a major label deal), recorded 14 albums (mostly self-released) since the early '90s, helped mentor Beck when he was a fledgling artist and nearly died 13 years ago from a withering liver due to a longstanding alcohol problem.

On his 15th album and label debut, Paleface plays his unique vision of urban folk, which includes flecks of country (Traveling from North Carolina), punk (Holy Holy) and hip hop (the brilliant A Cheatin' Song) and comes out sounding like an open mic mash-up of Mick Jagger, Billy Bragg, Jonathan Richman, Tom Waits, the Violent Femmes and Ray Davies. Accompanied by drummer/girlfriend Monica "Mo" Samalot, Paleface presents 10 of Show's 11 tracks as a parting love letter to New York, from the obvious New York, New York) to the sublime (You Are the Girl); the album's final song, Pondering the Night Sky, is an ode to his new North Carolina home.

Paleface has had enough dramatic irony for three careers (Kramer erased an entire album that Paleface had done with the producer, and Sire backed away from promoting his 1996 album, "Gett Off," because they didn't want to cross-compete with Beck's debut, "Molten Gold"), but it sure would be appropriate if his fond farewell to New York was his biggest hit.