As much as I like the music of singer/songwriter Jesse Malin — and I’ve been singing his praises since his 2007 gem “Glitter in the Gutter” — I confess to being a bit wary upon learning that he was rolling out “Outsiders” just six months after his last record, the terrific “New York Before the War.” Any time an artist releases two albums in quick succession, there’s a chance that the second offering will be comprised of less-than-great tunes that didn’t make the cut on the first one.
I’m happy to report that’s not the case with “Outsiders.” Is it as good as its predecessor? Not quite … but few albums are. It is, however, a worthy addition to Malin’s discography and a record he’s described as “a record built out of optimism and disgust — one for the leavers, the believers, the hustlers and the chickenhawks who could never catch us.”
The 11-track, 41-minute “Outsiders” is the 47-year-old Malin in his rawest form. The songs are rough around the edges — in the best possible way — and make for a compelling listen. The two best tunes, the title track and wonderfully titled lead single “You Know It’s Dark When the Atheists Start to Pray,” bookend the album, and Malin also scores with “Here’s the Situation,” “Edward Hopper (Somewhere in the Night),” “Whitestone City Limits” and “The Hustlers.” Good stuff. (Jeffrey Sisk)