Luke Doucet is a cinematic songwriter in the Tom Waits sense, a guy who manages to effortlessly spool mini-movies through every track. So though Broken, his latest offering, is a straight-up post-relationship record, the songs here are definitely not typical "Oh baby, why'd you let me go" fare. Instead, Doucet sets his breakdown in Vladivostok and shady Walnut Street alleyways, and steeps his lyrics in 40-proof liquor, heroin, cocaine and a haze of Lucky Strike smoke. Against arrangements of tinny glockenspiel, bar-room piano and his expert guitar work (he moves from haunting pedal steel to grimy noir spy-flick riffs with ease), Doucet's weary vocals sketch overlapping snapshots from a drunkard's doomed love affair. The constant references to alcohol and drugs would be grating from a lesser writer, but Doucet possesses the understated tough-guy grace of Raymond Carver.
Doucet joins the Four For Fall tour at Lee's Palace Saturday (October 22).