April 10, 2004
1. Pay The Toll
The album starts off more moderately compared to Green’s previous work. Of course the lyrics are as unique as ever, including the mandatory drug reference, but musically Green lends from the American south and late eighties British pop with a less than subtle string arrangement. But in its own way it is actually working quite well.
2. Hollywood Bowl
The Hollywood Bowl has a variety/cabaret kind of feel to it with the Spanish guitars and 30’s rhythm that could come straight out of a forlorn night club. Whereas Green had the tendency to sound gimmicky in his earlier work he holds on to the reins a little more this time.
This is actually a really good song. Green paces himself and allows us to hear that he’s actually quite a good singer with a knack for using subtle vocal inflections that direct the song. The arrangement is subtle and tasteful and while the song may not sound to current in its sound it does finally show off Adam Green’s talent as a musician. Hats off.
Drenched in irony, the punchy Novotel works quite well and this seems to be the balance that Green is looking for between his quirky and ironic nature whilst staying current and accessible in his music. There is an underlying anger or frustration that bubbles to the surface throughout the song and the arrangement is catchy in an unexpected manner.
5. Party Line
On this song, Green kind of misses the mark. It goes by before you know it and it never really rises out of mediocracy. The 50s/60s smooth flow of the song is nice but misses excitement or tension. In fact, it comes off a little bland.
6. Hey Dude
Sounds like a pretty obvious jest to McCartney’s Hey Jude but it sounds nothing like it and comes nowhere close to the epic nature of that song. The pointy rhythmic nature of the song is pretty cool though and from a writing standpoint, this song is actually quite impressive. Soundwise, however, it doesn’t quite make it out of the woods.
7. Nat King Cole
Songs about greats are always tricky. And Nat King Cole was one of the greatest. Thankfully Adam Green does him justice with a nice and raw bluesy rocker. The song lives off its drive generated by the strumming guitar and the deep vocals that are almost Elvis-like. When the song goes in overdrive Green doesn’t miss a step and keeps it rolling nicely.
On C-Birds, Green slows it down again and once again shows off his songwriting skills. The song is expertly crafted but as is the case more often than not, it doesn’t quite translate into a very appealing song soundwise.
9. Animal Dreams
With the introduction of piano and a more subtle, gentle arrangement, Green’s vocals come out better again and he sounds almost classic (think 50s) and if you disregard the nature of the lyrics, the song takes you back in time while, at the same time, sounding relatively current. This could be a perfect placement in a movie, playing in the background or during a dancing scene. Marry Poppins & Bert could lead the way.
10. Cast a Shadow
Hello Britpop. And you know what, it works, it works really well. By far Green’s most accessible and mainstream song on the album. Not too much lyrical content which also means there aren’t too many strange distractions and it keeps the song a little simpler, which makes it easy to get it stuck in your head.
The vocal-piano combo in this song sometimes reminds me of Van Morrison (in his Moondance days). It doesn’t quite reach that level but it is actually one of the better songs on the album.
12. Jolly Good
Forgettable. The song has nothing that sticks with you. It’s like a very soft and bland Carpenters b-side that they rightly cast aside.
13. Watching Old Movies
Watching Old Movies also is quite boring. Green sings it well and there are a few moments where it seems like the song is gonna rise up but then it never does.
14. White Women
Finally Adam Green is showing some balls. The groovy, dark White Women is a little harder and features some interesting keys and electric guitar that create atmosphere and feature as a backdrop for a gutsy song.
15. Hairy Women
This is the exact opposite of the previous track. Quiet and acoustic with a primary focus on the vocals that hardly ever exceeds the boundaries of a demo song.
“Jacket Full of Danger” is a very inconsistent album that has a number of interesting songs, some of which make me want to give Adam Green the benefit of the doubt but as time progresses I’m starting to lose interest in this artist. Being different is cool and it is what drew me to his act in the first place but just being different and peculiar doesn’t last. I miss substance and believability on most of the tracks. But then, every so often, Green shows he can deliver. Tracks like Vultures, Novotel and White Women prove he can take that step forward. Let’s hope his next album is filled with songs like that.