From the grim title and ghoulish cover image featuring our man hanging out in the graveyard, it would appear that Cemetery Shoes is death-'n'-degradation business as usual for Johnny Dowd. And lyrically at least, you get the typically high body count for what is ostensibly a concept album concerning Christian life. But musically, Dowd has continued to move beyond the spare guitar and vocals MO, incorporating a battery of vocal effects, menacing synthetic squeals and mechanized crunching along with a bigger helping of his more controlled guitar slashing and a noticeable upshift in tempo across the board. On the basis of the brilliant closer Rip Off, Dowd should seriously consider an instrumental album next.
Johnny Dowd opens for Neko Case at the Phoenix Sunday (January 16).