Johnny Dowd Cemetery Shoes

Spookier than a midnight walk through a graveyard and scarier than a Wes Craven movie. That is Johnny Dowd we're talking about, and he again justifies those tags with his new disc, Cemetery Shoes. His sixth album has scored him more rave reviews in Europe (Mojo correctly tagged him as "Americana's psycho"), and now Vancouver label Bongo Beat has picked it up for North America. Now 50, this former truck driver from Ithaca, NY, burst on the scene in 1997, with his Wrong Side Of Memphis debut. If anything, Dowd's twisted tales have become even darker and creepier. He writes of cross-dressing sons of butchers, adulterers, drowned mothers, sinners and cons, and sings them in a cracked voice that makes Lou Reed or Leonard Cohen sound like velvet-larynxed crooners. Yes, it is over-the-top gothic stuff, but Dowd sounds like he really means it, and that is genuinely scary. He has come up with the perfect aural accompaniment too, via old analog keyboards, effectively primal guitar work and lo-fi production. The energy of the playing imparts an upbeat feel to tunes like "Wedding Dress," the sickest ditty here. A superb soundtrack for Halloween and fun any other time. (Bongo Beat)