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Peter Wolf

A Cure for Loneliness – 2016 (Concord)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Peter Wolf

Peter Wolf is a bit of a changeling, or, better put, perhaps, a wolf in sheep's clothing. Where once he specialized in blues and bluster at the helm of the J Geils Band, his solo career's found him altering course, ploughing the fertile fields of Americana as a journeyman and troubadour, singing songs not about bitchy women and betrayed intents, but rather about hard luck happenstance in general, not the least of which is lost love.

"A Cure For Loneliness" is no exception, a song cycle that finds the once swaggering singer navigating the fertile fields of America's heartland, taking it at a pace that goes from a rumble to a shuffle to an occasional exhortative outpour. Partly live, mostly studio, it has the Geils Band's big hit and standby "Love Stinks" repurposed at a bluegrass clip, with fiddles, mandolin and an entire audience echoing that familiar refrain. Likewise, the rowdy call to arms signalled through "Wasted Time" prompts another incendiary reaction. "How Do You" offers a boozy boogie on par with ZZ Top, while the soulful "It's Raining," written with Don Covay and intended as a duet with the late Bobby Womack, demonstrates Wolf's worth as an emotive singer versed in a variety of forms.

Nevertheless, with a title like "A Cure For Loneliness, it's only natural to expect that regret and remorse will be central themes, and so its comes as little surprise that trudging tempos dominate the mix. Here again however, Wolf pulls all of it off with aplomb, be it the lazy back country clip of "Rolling On," the hushed, reverential "Peace of Mind" or the mellow drift that underscores "Fun For A While." Eight albums on, Wolf's remarkable renaissance is in full bloom, making "A Cure For Loneliness" just what the doctor ordered.