Johnny Dowd is a singer-songwriter based in
New York state who debuted at 50 with
the gloomy "murder ballads" of Wrong Side of Memphis (1998),
arranged in a spartan manner that further increased the sense of dejection.
His style was alt-country with Nick Cave-esque overtones.
After Pictures from Life's Other Side (1999), which added a country-rock
backing band, and another slab of manic depression,
Temporary Shelter (2001), perhaps his most intense and elegant
(Cradle to The Grave, Sky Above Mud Below),
Dowd found a nice balance of bleakness and humour on the more accessible
The Pawnbroker's Wife (2002),
whose songs are enhanced with
off-kilter dynamics and arrangements
(mostly dissonant and slightly electronic),
often sounding like a cross between
Tom Waits and
At the same time, Dowd's most "rocking" album recasts him as
(Sweeter Than Honey, Woody Guthrie Blues, Virginia Beach,
The electronic arrangements became even more subtle on
Cemetery Shoes (2004), which manages to be both his most traditional
collection and its most experimental
(Dear John Letter, Rest In Peace).
Cruel Worlds (2006) and
A Drunkard's Masterpiece (Munich, 2008) drifted
progressively towards Michael Stark's electronic keyboards and even
Kim Sherwood's vocals.
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