Joe West & the Sinners Jamie Was a Boozer (Rehab)
Reviewed by Christopher Gray, Fri., April 14, 2000
Joe West & the Sinners
Jamie Was a Boozer (Rehab)Seeking common ground between Jerry Springer and Woody Guthrie may turn some folks' hair whiter than prime-time TV, but if music doesn't adapt to its times, it winds up on life-support alongside Sousa marches, Shaker hymns, and (some would argue) jazz. Thus, Joe West & the Sinners are all about taking folk music into the age of Elian. "Roll over fat boy, I'm trying to find NPR," orders the hero of "Trailer Park Liberal," who goes clubbing with his gay friend and whose girlfriend buys the beer when he's broke. West is precisely the type of forward-thinking local folkie who'd follow the sneering, slightly psychotic "Dream Tractor" ("The tractor of your dreams"? Paging Dr. Freud ...) with the breezy "Rehab Girl," about a staffer at "that place where you stay, up on MLK" who "likes her men shady." But it's hardly all inebriated UFO chasers and girls sweeping West under $2,000 Navajo rugs. "Are You Still My Girl" is the best first-dance wedding song to come out of Austin since Mike Nicolai's "Catch You Alive," with "Pittsburgh, PA" and "Judas Iscariot" not far behind. All told, West and the Sinners more than atone for any lingering debt to Dylan, Neil Young, or even Jimmy Buffett. This witty, wistful tip of the gimme cap to the margins of millennial America revels in the same flip-flopped pluck as that bottle blonde behind you in the express lane, balancing her checkbook as she leafs through the Star.