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John Wesley Harding
ADAMíS APPLE
(DRT)
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John Wesley Harding is that rare literary voice who doesnít attempt to cram every last turn of phrase into a song at the expense of the tune. Folksingers often abandon melody at the first sign of an emerging epic, but Harding keeps his ear on the hook. Heís outlived the early Elvis Costello comparisons; he detoured into the works of traditional English folkie Nic Jones with 1999ís Trad Arr Jones. His first novel, Misfortune, will be published in September. Literary ambitions satisfied, Harding approaches his 11th album with workmanlike efficiency. Recorded in London, New York, Connecticut, and Hollywood, Adamís Apple mostly features modest adult-contemporary pop songs. The first single, "Negative Love," and "Sleeper Awake" keep to the Harding standard of polished grooves upholstered with warmly amplified guitars, stately keyboards, and sad-cast vocals. "Sussex Ghost Story," a collaboration with classical composer Gavin Bryars, is the albumís centerpiece, a scoundrelís short story set to a string ensemble. A natural MOR brooder, slightly bland over the long haul, Harding attempts to spice things up via funk ("Sluts") and humor ("She Never Talks"), but he does best when he stays within his limitations.

BY ROB OíCONNOR


Issue Date: February 6 - 12, 2004
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