Artist: Peter Wolf
Album: A Cure For Loneliness
Label: Concord Records
Release Date: 04/08/2016
Who doesn’t need A Cure For Loneliness every now and then? Throw on Peter Wolf’s new album and cozy up with quite an assortment of musical styles. Studio tracks bump up against live ones, and the tunes veer across a spectrum from contemporary R&B to bluegrass. It takes a special kind of artist to put that much diversity onto one disc and make it work from the standpoints of both quality and cohesiveness. Wolf is best known, of course, as the dynamic front man for the iconic J. Geils Band, a rock powerhouse in the 1970’s that peaked with the number one, catchy “Centerfold” in 1982. Wolf left the group shortly thereafter, reuniting with them briefly several times, but primarily recording and performing as a solo artist. For this, his eighth album, he’s written some fine new songs, and cut them with members of his touring band, including the superlative guitarist, Duke Levine.
The album has a sense of history coursing all through it, but it sure looks ahead just the same. At once spare, haunting and sleek, “Rolling On” opens it with a biker’s perspective of change. With big spirit and his lady on a side-by-side, Wolf cruises forward, warily, but happily. The live cut “Wastin’ Time” finds him in more familiar territory. Rollicking and countrified, it sounds like Geils and the Stones rolling together in their heyday. Wolf certainly took care of his voice. Still strong, clear, and nuanced like hot charcoal glinting, he still well-communicates the passion that marks the best rock ‘n’ roll. But the finest songs on the album are steeped in soul. “It’s Raining,” co-written with the great Don Covay, is a simple, sumptuous and golden gem on a bed of brass. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Peter Wolf album without some antics. So, out of nowhere comes a live, full-on Appalachian Hills run through the Geils hit, “Love Stinks.” Nothin’ at all lonely about that!