John Doe’s voice is so expansive, so open, and his ninth solo album, Keeper, is all about that wonderful, versatile voice of his, as a singer and songwriter. Track 1, a rock ’n’ roll beauty called “Don’t Forget How Much I Love You,” is an arms-wide-open celebration of love and everyday moments: “A paper sack and a kiss good-bye/You’re off to see the world and I’m breathin’/Yeah I’m breathin deep/Don’t forget how much I love you…” The joy is palpable. “Moonbeam” is a sultry, blues-in-the-night song of pining for love. And then there are harder-edged tunes like “Never Enough,” a sarcastic, rockin’ send-up of consumerism, and a Sun Records–style shuffle version of “Painting the Town Blue,” which Doe wrote with X bandmate Exene Cervenka for their More Fun in the New World album in 1983.
Doe is joined on Keeper by a wonderful cast of musicians, including guest vocalists Patty Griffin, Jill Sobule and Cindy Wasserman, as well as guitarist Smokey Hormel, guitar/pedal-steel player Greg Leisz, the multi-talented Don Was and more. Whether he’s ripping it up, revisiting his punk days with X—who are currently touring with a front-to-back 31st-anniversary performance of their debut album, Los Angeles—or showcasing his own wonderful songs, Doe is always worth a listen.
Producers: Dave Way, John Doe. Engineer: Way. Studios: Waystation, New Monkey (both in L.A.), The Maid’s Room (New York City).