Mark Eitzel The Ugly American

It seems like Mark Eitzel has resolved himself to releasing novelty albums rather than entertaining the world with his own songs. After his foray into the world of cover versions with Music for Courage & Confidence, he is now rather bizarrely covering his own songs, but with a backing band comprised of traditional Greek musicians. The Ugly American isn’t the huge diversion it might initially appear like because for the most part, the music sounds an awful lot like American Music Club. The presence of bouzoukis and other unusual instruments is underplayed and they simply add to the overall backing to Eitzel’s equally mournful songs. It is only on "Here They Roll Down” that a song is really transformed, and not in a good way. It is dominated by a wealth of squealing wind instruments that don’t seem to be following any particular tune, and it simply doesn’t work. The nine other songs are simply wonderful, with Eitzel’s voice weaving its way through a web of strings and mandolin. He sounds more confident than he has in years and The Ugly American is a real return to form. Now if we could only convince him to write some new songs. (Thirsty Ear)