Michael Penn Mr Hollywood Jr. 1947

No, the title is not a reference to Michael being overshadowed by his movie star brother, Sean. This is something of a concept album, as Penn explains. "The year 1947 has always held a fascination for me. In these songs I found I was placing myself, people, places and events into a different world, America in 1947.” That is reflected in a song like "The Transistor” (which was invented that year), and in the ’40s feel to the minute-long "The Television Set Waltz.” Michael has been rather conspicuous by his absence from the recording scene since 2000’s MP4: Days Since A Coastline Accident, but it is good to have him back. In some ways he can be considered a male Aimee Mann. Aside from the fact they’re married, each pursue their own brand of melodic and poetic pop a little too doggedly to conform to the mainstream music industry, as nasty legal battles with majors indicates. Each has also attracted a significant and loyal fan base along the way. Penn is more adventurous musically than Mann, as this album demonstrates. Distinctly Beatlesque feels can be heard on songs like the lovely and string-embellished "Pretending” and "Mary Lynn.” A minor flaw is the disc’s brevity (at under 39 minutes), but Michael’s pen and musicianship here will keep his following content. (Spinart)