Release Date: Apr 29, 2016
Record label: Cool Rock Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Country-Rock, Roots Rock
Ever since he broke through to nationwide recognition with X's outstanding 1980 debut, Los Angeles, John Doe has been one of rock's greatest triple threats. Doe is a brilliant singer with a gift for writing great melodies, and he's an intelligent, evocative lyricist. Nearly all of Doe's albums find him displaying these talents in equal measure, but 2016's The Westerner is an uncommonly strong set of songs that that ranks with his finest work.
Throughout his career, John Doe’s maintained a dour disposition, indicative of the fact that he’s gone from a punk provocateur with his band X to a solo route as a journeyman rocker. With The Westerner, Doe manages to mix it up, turning that gloomy perspective towards songs that allow him to both rock out and cast his sights on innuendo and observation in equal measure. The stealth-like stare that accompanies “Get On Board” is an ideal example; a rallying cry of sorts, it’s underscored by a persistent beat that’s as much about the blues as it is about the bombast.
By John Doe’s reckoning, there’s a lot going on on “The Westerner,” his first studio release in five years. He’s labeled it a “psychedelic soul record from the Arizona desert” and dedicated it to his longtime friend, the author and Native American rights advocate Michael Blake, who passed away as Doe was making the record. Doe has said that many of its songs are about Blake, or use him as their main character; he also says that it’s about freedom and open space, the West, and the original peoples of the West, wild horses, and the Doors.