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Steve Wynn - Sketches in Spain (2014) review


Steve Wynn - Sketches in Spain (Omnivore Records, 2014)

Steve Wynn, late of the legendary band Dream Syndicate, and currently, seeming to be all things to all people, hits us with a massive undertaking, consisting of 19 tracks, creating a rock opus of sorts, with a sly nod to the brilliant Miles Davis album “Sketches Of Spain.”  Steve’s take on the whole issue simply revolves around the fact that the album was recorded “in” Spain, though one track denies this, and unlike Miles, there’s no Spanish influence ... other than the stylish bull on the cover, that again, evokes a visual image of “Sketches of Spain.”  What Wynn’s album does emulate, is the stylish sonic palette created by European new-wave and dance club singles.

If you live or have visited in the EU, and it mattered to you, you may have heard this release in its original formate, drawn from of two albums recorded between 2001 and 2009, and never seeing the American shores until collected here ... and I can assure you, it’s a monster to swim through.  There are deep riffs, unexpected vocals, unheard of arrangements, at times harking back images of Dream Syndicate, and at others, forcing me to question whether Steve even remembers those heady days, when he fired up a band who were sincerely one of the darlings of the industry, an indie grand slam, where he fronted a group of musicians who simply never had to pay their dues.  What did surprise me, was how much I felt the presence of Lou Reed while listening to these tracks ... and also David Byrne, which I can’t explain, though you’ll understand it when you hear it.

This release is surly going to further divide the Wynn camps, but those camps have been under division for a very long time.  Wynn himself describes his career as a “beautiful mess,” and as I revisit the lines “I’ll make a toast to the flesh, and not a ghost,” I can’t help but feel happy that I’m able to walk between those two camps.  It’s like tap dancing on a land mine, and the results are explosive.

Review made by Jenell Kesler/2015
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