The Child Ballads Cheekbone Hollows (Pop. ½ Life)

In the decade since his former band, Jonathan Fire*Eater, imploded, Stewart Lupton has remained out of the spotlight, unlike his band-mates, who went on to success as the Walkmen. Time and patience paid off for Lupton, who returned a few years ago as the Child Ballads, leaving behind the piercing organs and ape-like vocal delivery of his past life. As JF*E’s former front-man, Lupton still retains that unmistakable voice, which hangers-on can marvel at on Cheekbone Hollows, which shines a bright light on not only Lupton’s transformation into a completely different beast but also as an adept songwriter calling the shots. Roping in former Blues Explosion guitar whiz Judah Bauer to help fulfil his vision, the Child Ballads build a down-home, live-off-the-floor wonderland — the kind of place where Marc Bolan sips tea with Bob Dylan. Lupton’s drunken prose produces verses of sublime creativity while he chops away at the acoustic guitar, often surrounded by everything from glam-y riffage and subtle viola to erratic but well-played rhythms. Lupton’s said he’s in it for the long haul this time, and Cheekbone Hollows shows he can deliver on his former band’s promise. (Gypsy Eyes)