CD Review: Exene Cervenka Somewhere Gone (Bloodshot Records)

Exene Cervenka, the co-leader (with John Doe) of my favorite punk band, X, shows her poetic side on this solo release. Of course, she has never not been a poet; that’s one of the things that have made X so great: They’re loud and powerful, nasty sometimes, with off-kilter harmonies and rockabilly guitars, but they are never stupid.
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Exene Cervenka, the co-leader (with John Doe) of my favorite punk band, X, shows her poetic side on this solo release. Of course, she has never not been a poet; that’s one of the things that have made X so great: They’re loud and powerful, nasty sometimes, with off-kilter harmonies and rockabilly guitars, but they are never stupid. Well, solo, Cervenka sings in more conventional harmony with backing vocalists Cindy Wasserman and Amy Farris (of Dave Alvin’s Guilty Women). The vocals sound pretty—even putting forth a sweet, traditional version of “The Willow Tree”—yet they somehow retain Cervenka’s ironic edge.

Also featured on the album is the bass work of the album’s engineer, Lou Whitney of The Skeletons, who, with Cervenka producing, maintains a light touch that weaves mostly acoustic guitars (Cervenka, Jason Edge), small percussion sounds (Edge), violin/viola/cello (Farris) and keyboards softly around Cervenka’s beautiful voice to showcase 13 original songs.

A side note: Dexter Romweber of the awesome punkabilly outfit the Dex Romweber Duo makes a quiet appearance on Somewhere Gone, as well, playing piano and organ on “Surface of the Sun,” If you checked out this review because of the X/punk connection, you’ll also want to hear the Dex Romweber Duo’s fearsome new collaboration with Jack White.

Must Play: “Where Do We Go From Here”

Producer: Exene Cervenka. Engineer: Lou Whitney. Studio: The Studio (Springfield, MO). Mastering: Collin Jordan/The Boiler Room (Chicago, IL).

—Barbara Schultz