Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

CD Review: Lenny Molotov – Luminous Blues

The virtuoso guitarist steps up to the plate four times and hits three home runs on this tantalizingly brief ep. That’s a .750 batting average. Lenny Molotov, who fronts the impressively authentic delta blues outfit Elgin Movement and also plays lead in Randi Russo’s band, also happens to be a spectacularly good songwriter and lyricist as well as one of the best guitarists anywhere. An apt comparison would be Richard Thompson. Each draws deeply from traditional sources: in Thompson’s case, British folk; Molotov continues in the tradition of great bluesmen from Charley Patton to Robert Johnson, while adding contemporary lyrics. Like Thompson, Molotov is also a brilliant wordsmith, a master of symbolism, allusion and imagery: he doesn’t tell a story as much as show you a movie and let you figure out for yourself what’s going on.

The album opens with the innuendo-laden Ceiling Fan, a concert favorite that sounds something like a great lost track from Blonde on Blonde, except with much better guitar:

I could be Henry Miller and you could be Anais Nin
But you gotta let me know whether you want me out or in
I’m leaving now but you can gimme a call
When you’re ready to begin
Then we can both lay back and watch your ceiling fan spin

There’s a guitar break between the chorus and verse that sounds pretty much the same but a close listen reveals that it’s not: Molotov slowly changes it every go-round and by the time the song it’s over it’s become a macabre snake dance. It works perfectly, considering that this song is about cheating. After a routine popup, Molotov strides to batter’s box and hits another one into the upper deck with Love Train (not the O’Jays/Yayhoos hit). It riffs on pretty much every Manhattan subway line, a sardonic, open-tuned, fingerpicked blues about a relationship gone all the way out to Stillwell Avenue:

I cannot take the D train
Cause D it stands for dog
Cause that’s the animal I feel most like
When you were playing god
OOOh, stop this train…

It’s a classic New York song. The album concludes with the anthemic, crescendoing, vengeful Bottle Up and Go, which Molotov frequently uses to close his solo shows. Fans of current songwriters rooted in blues and Americana including Tom Waits, LJ Murphy and Rachelle Garniez – and the aforementioned Mr. Thompson – will love this stuff.

This is a hard album to find other than at shows. Four bagels, with whatever a bluesman would put on them. Which probably means hard salami and mustard – they both keep well. Molotov typically plays his own stuff on weekend nights at Sidewalk.

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June 5, 2007 - Posted by | Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. […] Oct 19 Randi Russo lead guitarist Lenny Molotov plays fiery, authentic fingerpicked delta blues along with his potent, original, politically […]

    Pingback by NYC Live Events Calendar 10/3-20/07 « Lucid Culture | October 3, 2007 | Reply

  2. […] Oct 19 Randi Russo lead guitarist Lenny Molotov plays fiery, authentic fingerpicked delta blues along with his potent, original, politically […]

    Pingback by NYC Live Music Calendar 10/10-31/07 « Lucid Culture | October 9, 2007 | Reply

  3. […] MOLOTOV Luminous Blues https://lucidculture.wordpress.com/2007/06/05/cd-review-lenny-molotov-luminous-blues At Sidewalk 5/11/07 […]

    Pingback by Index « Lucid Culture | January 15, 2008 | Reply


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