Death Row Hoedown
John Widdop 27/05/2004
Muleskinner Jones, (aka the whiskey n' death swamp crawling alter-ego of electric-haired Wiltshire lunatic, James Closs) it's safe to say without much hesitation, has heard at least one Tom Waits record. The Waits growl and incandescent bark, not to mention the obsession with the the Mississippi Delta Southern blues, are not so much skeletons in the closet on this album, but doing the Danse Macabre across every track. No bad thing obviously: the epic barnstorm of “Truckstop Funeral” and electro-squalor of “Concrete Swamp” are fine cross-breeds of alt.country, Gonzales-eque synth skullduggery, and Nick Cave at his most threatening. Elsewhere, Closs' suffers too much from trying to perfect this alter-ego too early: The opening and closing themes, although interesting, are pointless, and the echoey discordant ballads rarely get going before they collapse under their own weight of cliché and fabricated weirdness. A lesson in image management most definitely required, but there is more than enough promise here that should see the Muleskinner baiting Sixteen Horsepower for the title of music's most murderous in years to come.