New York Before The War – Jesse Malin
One Little Indian
The title provokes the question: what war? Could it be the war between Malin’s authentic art-fueled New York City neighborhood and the corporate plans and squeaky-clean frat boys? “I lived here all my life” he reminds us on the second track. Malin confronts all he and his beloved city have become in this 13 song sensation of raw power and heartbreak honed ballads. It’s Malin’s own testament to the war zone of living life as a true artist.
The album opens surprisingly on the softer side with “The Dreamers”, a Tom Waits-esque piano serenade that lulls you to the place you were when you first heard “After the Gold rush”. There is a confidence about his vocal performance, and you can almost see the smile on his face as he delivers own brand home truths, at the same time knowing he’s proved it all night, a thousand times over.
The standout “Addicted” starts with a thumping Simenon style bass line. “They tried steal his paintings, they were counting up the days before he died” refers to the artist Arturo Vega, a friend of Malin’s who died of aids in 2013. “Boots of Immigration” encompasses the glorious power chords of a Pixies/Clash anthem set against a sonic version of Scorsese’s Mean Streets.
Malin is a street walking cheetah with a handful of PMA ( Positive Mental Attitude, Malin’s mantra). They say you can be truly anonymous within the enormity of NYC but in New York Before The War Malin wants to draw us up close and personal. He reminds us about what made us want to catch that reckless subway train, and why we never want the ride to end.