Release Date: Jan 29, 2008
Record label: Rykodisc
Joe Jackson's 2003 album, Volume 4, found the songwriter reunited with his original backing band for the first time since 1980, and it was his best and best-received effort in years, with Jackson stepping away from the grander conceits of his work as a "serious" composer and turning back to the pithy but literate pop tunes that had long been his forte. Jackson promised that the reunion with his original band would be a one-off, and technically he's kept his word on Rain -- this album was cut as a trio, with Jackson backed by bassist Graham Maby and drummer Dave Houghton from the original Joe Jackson Band, but without the presence of guitarist Gary Sanford. Minus Sanford, Rain is a bit smoother and more refined than Volume 4, and it's a far cry from the scrappy new wave-inspired rock of Look Sharp! and I'm the Man, but it does show that Jackson learned something from his experience with Volume 4 -- he's better with clever pop songs than trying to write orchestral pieces, and Rain balances sophistication and edgy smarts with a winning mixture of grace and confidence.
It’s impressive how the new wave veteran can flesh out a batch of songs with what seems to be so little. This album uses only Joe Jackson’s voice and piano, backed by his long-time bassist and drummer. Fans won’t be let down by this latest collection of accomplished and almost too-smart songwriting that borrows from the classic sensibilities of piano-based jazz.