Uncut - p.1243 stars out of 5
- "Drifters-scented barrio pop, booming melodrama and accordion-laced trysts are rendered with verve and sensitivity."
Personnel: Willy DeVille (vocals, acoustic guitar, slide guitar, background vocals); Quetzal Flores (various instruments, jarana); Josh Sklair (guitar, acoustic guitar, acoustic 12-string guitar, electric guitar, nylon-string guitar, E-bow); John Sklair (guitar, 12-string guitar, E-bow); Martin "Baby Face" Arellano (acoustic guitar, trumpet); Lenin Garc¡a (acoustic guitar); Diego "La Empanada" Arellano (guitarron); David Hidalgo (bajo sexto, accordion); Michael Starr (mandolin, violin, strumstick); J. Mario Rodriguez (violin); John Philip Shenale (strings, piano, electric piano, Wurlitzer piano, chord organ, Wurlitzer organ, chamberlin, synthesizer, ARP synthesizer, percussion, loops, sampler, unknown instrument); Hook Herrera (harmonica); David Keyes (double bass, electric bass, bass guitar, background vocals); Joey Waronker, Steve Stevens , Steve Stevens (drums); Alex Acu¤a (cajon drums, castanets, cowbells, guiro, maracas, shaker, tambourine, timbales); Martha Gonz lez (cajon drums); Castro Gonzalez, Augusto Cesar (unknown instrument); Billy Valentine, John Valentine (background vocals).
Audio Mixers: John Philip Shenale; John Carter .
Recording information: Cerrillos, NM; Mayflower Hotel, New York, NY; Nut Ranch, Studio City, CA.
Illustrator: Alfons Kiefer.
Unknown Contributor Role: Michael Starr.
Arranger: Lenin Garc¡a.
It's hard to get a handle on what to call Willy DeVille's multi-genre music, though AMG writer Thom Jurek's description of "Spanish soul-inflected love songs" comes close. "Muddy Waters Rose Out of the Mississippi Mud" would be perfect for Rusty Kershaw, God rest his soul, a nice complement to the laid-back cover of Jay & the Americans' Top Three hit from 1964, "Come a Little Bit Closer" -- its presentation a wonderful nod to songwriters Wes Farrell and Bobby Hart. The evolution is startling 28 years after Mink DeVille gave listeners "Let Me Dream if I Want To" on the classic punk LP Live at CBGB's, and DeVille emerges as a major interpreter. The four minutes and 31 seconds of Bryan Ferry's "Slave to Love" may be one of the most distinct and unique adaptations of a Ferry tune put on record to date. Outside of the covers, the other eight tracks are Willy DeVille originals, "(Don't Have A) Change of Heart" liberally borrowing the melody from Kenny Rogers' hit "Lucille." "Trouble Comin' Every Day in a World" slinks and lurks around the corner with another stylistic change, sounding a bit like that other Willie from the same era, Bostonian Willie "Loco" Alexander. A sticker on the CD says "First studio album in 5 years!" -- though wasn't his previous "studio" disc (not including the live albums) Horse of a Different Color released in 2001? No matter; Crow Jane Alley is a very respectable collection from this journeyman, starting off with the single "Chieva" and continuing with DeVille's novel exploration of sound and clever merging of styles. ~ Joe Viglione