T-Bone Burnett
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Truth Decay (1980), 7/10
Proof Through The Night (1983), 6/10
T-Bone Burnett (1986), 6/10
The Talking Animals (1988), 6/10
The Criminal Under My Own Hat (1992), 6.5/10
The True False Identity (2006), 5/10
Tooth of Crime (2008), 5/10

T-Bone (John) Burnett (born in Missouri but raised in Texas) was originally a sideman for Bob Dylan in 1973 and then a member of the Alpha Band, that released the albums Alpha Band (1977), Spark In The Dark (1977) and Statue Makers Of Hollywood (1978). His first solo album, Truth Decay (Takoma, 1980), is a little gem of bluesy roots-rock (Love At First Sight, Madison Avenue), power-pop (Quicksand) and rock and roll (Boomerang). A nice appendix, The Trap Door (Warner, 1982), adds Hold On Tight and I Wish You Could Have Seen Her Dance to his folk-rock canon and Trap Door and Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend to his confessional diary. A grander, spacier and thicker production turns Proof Through The Night (Warner, 1983) into a more professional and ambitious affair. The results are mixed: Burnett has lost some of his innocence, and not gained enough depth.

Burnett went from rocker to folksinger with the acoustic T-Bone Burnett (MCA, 1986), whose bluesy ballads (River Of Love, Oh No Darling) and tex-mex accents still echo Bob Dylan's mid-1970s style.

The Talking Animals (Columbia, 1988) offers tight boogies (Monkey Dance, You Could Look It Up), witty novelties (Image), and catchy tunes (The Killer Moon) in his most blatant commercial sell-out.

The Christian moralist (now relocated to Los Angeles and married to another Christian moralist, Sam Phillips) that has always been hiding behind his (way too serious) lyrics blooms on The Criminal Under My Own Hat (1992), another return to his acoustic roots. The song cycle sounds like an indictment of all mankind, guilty of reveling in its sins while destroying everything that is magic about the human experience. The spare arrangements work best for Every Little Thing (string quartet and slide guitar), Any Time At All, Tear This Building Down. Ambience is 90% of what he has to say. The satires (I Can Explain Everything, Humans From Earth, Kill Switch), instead, have the preaching, over-reaching quality that he criticizes others for.

Coming after a 14-year hiatus, The True False Identity (Arista, 2006) reveals the influence of rap (Fear Country, Palestine Texas) and concerns for politics (Fear Country) and religion (Blinded By The Darkness). Featuring demigod Marc Ribot on guitar, the album's only drawback is that it is just not enough musical.

Twenty Twenty (2006) is a double-disc career retrospective, ruined by two many "rarities".

Tooth of Crime (2008) collects music composed for Sam Shephard's 1972 play and some new songs.

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