Alt-country is a big tent, but much of what qualifies as the genre these days is much more alt than country. Jack Marks keeps the country squarely in his sights on Wicked Moon, his fourth album. Lyrics about outlaws, ne'er-do-wells, love and heartache could be cliché in the hands of a lesser songwriter, but Marks delivers a great collection of cleverly written songs here, sung in his signature conversational, matter-of-fact style.
The album makes good use of Toronto's alt-country regulars, like Michael Eckert (pedal steel, dobro), Justin Ruppel (drums), Galen Pelley and Jay Swinnerton (pianos), and thanks to producer and engineer Aaron Comeau, the whole thing sounds terrific. The one duet on the album, "Wallflower Waltz," with Angie Gunn on guest vocals, is reminiscent of a Flying Burrito Brothers number, while the first track, "When I'm Old", has Bob Dylan written all over it.
But the best songs here, like "Heartbreak," "Ain't Seen Him Lately" and the bluesy "Make It Up To Me" don't sound like anyone but Jack Marks. And that's a very good thing. (Independent)