Paul Westerberg is out with another full-length album, less than a year after his release of his last two records, Come Feel Me Tremble and Dead Man Shake. (The latter released under the sort of pen name Grandpaboy.) There’s not a whole lot new here. The general sound is the same as his past four releases; it’s raw, simplistic, lo-fi and spontaneous. This has been the mode of working for Westerberg since he made his resurgence several years ago on quasi-indie label Vagrant Records. Ever since then, Westerberg has been churning out albums with reckless abandon. Unfortunately, his newest offering, Folker, is unable to live up to the expectations Westerberg set up for himself with his first two releases on Vagrant. The albums Mono and Stereo (2002) could easily be described as the crowning achievement of Westerberg’s solo career and some of his very best work, including that done with the Replacements. Everything clicked on those records; his intentionally shaky, nearly self-destructive playing style was perfectly held together by incredibly good songwriting. And that’s exactly what suffers on Folker, the songwriting. Most of the songs lack the cohesiveness and thought present on other recordings. There are some standout tracks like “As Far as I Know” and “Gun Shy,” but Folker doesn’t stand up as a whole particularly well. When Mono and Stereo came out, they were his first releases in three years. Since 2002 he’s put out five full-length records and a DVD. Maybe what Paul needs is to slow down! It’s still Paul Westerberg, and it’s still a good listen. But after what he’s shown he can do, with songs like “Silent Film Star” and “Let’s Not Belong Together” (Stereo) this Artsweek listener can’t help but be a bit disappointed in what Paul Westerberg is knockin’ right out.
[Danny Lewis can make a mean creme br