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Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John
Artist: Peter Case
Label: Yep Roc Records
Time: 11 tracks / 41 minutes
Peter Case should be household name. He has accumulated an impressive discography over his twenty plus years as an artist. From his early days with the power pop group The Plimsouls all the way through his most current release Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John, Case has given us one solid release after another.
This album, which pays homage to country blues artist Sleepy John Estes contains ten new songs along with one traditional blues song. The album features mostly just Case on guitar, though there are very tasteful appearances from such folks as Richard Thompson on “Every 24 Hours,” Duane Jarvis on “I’m Gonna Change My Ways,” and Carlos Guitarlos on “Underneath The Stars.”
This album is more in tune stylistically with his 1998 release _Full Service No Waiting_ and the wonderful storytelling of 1989’s The Man with the Blue Post-Modern Fragmented Neo-Traditional Guitar. As with most Case records he deals with the downtrodden and folks who have nothing but bad luck. From “Million Dollars Bail” with lyrics like ”There’s two kind of justice in the world” to “Palookaville”, which is a story of a washed up boxer, you get Case delivering another batch of classic songs.
Not all the news is bad though. Case always will try to leave a little bit of goodness amongst the bad news. In the tune “Underneath the Stars,” you get death of a homeless woman in a park, but you get the sense there is an inheritance the she will receive in the end.
Also, with lyrics like “Eternity is longer than one night inside a box/And if you’re heading toward the jailhouse, now’s the time to pick the locks/ But there’s a sentence passed on every soul, someday we all must die/ And the question’s not who pulled the switch, it’s how you lived and why,” you feel that in the end Case believes in some divine justice.
As Case states on the song “That Soul Twist,” “You’re as alive today as you have ever been.”
Hopefully more people will take a chance and listen to this wonderful album and discover what I have known for several years now, Peter Case is one of the most criminally overlooked songwriters of our generation. Pick it up and listen to it two or three times and tell me that I’m not telling the truth. Right now it’s my album of the year.
By Gar Saeger