It took album #3 for The Beasts of Bourbon to fall prey to what we’ll call for lack of a better word “safe” music. Which is not to say that Black Milk is a bad album; on the contrary, it’s a terrific amalgam of everything that was present on the previous two records (their debut The Axeman’s Jazz is a terrific gnarled album, but I don’t own a physical copy, so no review). But that amalgam is tempered, somewhat. There’s a tunefulness and restraint that doesn’t have the vital spark of Sour Mash, but is sweet just the same.
Sometimes you want that tunefulness. You want that care and passion and tender pain wrapped in something not quite so wounding. Songs like “Words From a Woman to Her Man” and “I’m So Happy I Could Cry” have the crooning sensibilities of classic 70s pop singles but soar with some great production and stellar guitar work. If there’s a touchstone here it’s more Lou Reed than Nick Cave this time around, but the music still has a boozy swirl made oh so inviting thanks to the production and engineering duties from Phil Punch. I don’t know who Phil Punch is, but damn this album sounds good.
Moving on “A Fate Much Worse Than Life” brings back the Island era Tom Waits, and by the time we get to the final track “Rest in Peace” it definitely feels like Black Milk is a quieter, more reserved affair, but one where you know everyone winds up drunk and in love and more than a little bit sad.
My kind of music.