John Doe's 10th solo album is a loose, romantic melding of pop, country and punk recorded in L.A. with long-term collaborator Dave Way. Despite the evident talent of his backup band - vocalists Patti Griffin and Jill Sobule, guitarist Smokey Hormel, bassist Don Was and Giant Sand's Howe Gelb on piano - it takes a while to get into, in part because the arrangements are often so busy that they verge on chaotic.
That unbridled energy works in the big chorus of Giant Step Backward, on piano romp Walking Out The Door and on hectic sax-punctuated anti-materialism song Never Enough. In other places, Doe's vocals get buried. The quieter material is endearingly unpolished and sweet, especially the nostalgic lyrics to Cottage In The 'Dale and Earl Jackson cover Moonbeam. He closes with X's 1983 country-rocker Painting The Town Blue.
Top track: Sweetheart