John Doe Keeper

John Doe Keeper
We last heard from this Californian roots-rock pioneer (X, the Knitters) two years ago, with his superb collaboration with the Sadies on Country Club. That release featured cover material, but Doe's strength as a songwriter is reaffirmed on this, his eighth solo record. As usual, Doe covers plenty of ground stylistically, and he does it with energy. The respect he enjoys amongst his peers is reflected in the star-studded cast list on Keeper, including Don Was, Steve Berlin, Howe Gelb and Smokey Hormel. Also making potent contributions are guest vocalists Patty Griffin, Jill Sobule and Cindy Wasserman. In fact, the frequent and effective use of female harmony vocals and the virile band sound give Keeper more of an X feel than many of Doe's earlier solo albums, especially on such cuts as the rollicking "Jump Into My Arms" and "Painting the Town Blue," a Doe/Exene composition they first recorded on X classic More Fun in the New World. Doe's vocal prowess is shown throughout, especially on lovely ballad "Moonbeams," an album highlight (and only cover) that verges on Chris Isaak territory. Yes, it's another keeper from a somewhat undervalued artist. (Yep Roc)