Midnight Souvenirs

Midnight Souvenirs

by Peter WolfPeter Wolf


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Certain records create a space where memory -- not nostalgia -- makes us long for something that's been missing. Eight years after the stellar Sleepless, Peter Wolf offers us that with Midnight Souvenirs. Few artists can make records where tautly crafted songs with solid lyrics, balanced production, and inspired performances are the only priorities. The album's musical traces go all the way back to his past as a DJ, as a member of the Hallucinations and the J. Geils Band to his solo career and the present moment in terrific voice. Wolf and collaborators (most notably writing partner Will Jennings and co-producer Kenny Brown) deliver adult rock & roll songs. The tunes are direct, poignant, and confessional, buoyed by Wolf's trademark sense of humor. It engages roots rock, R&B, Americana, and yes, blues, played by an all-star band that includes guitarists Larry Campbell and Duke Levine, and the best female backing chorus in the business: Ada Dyer and Catherine Russell. There isn't a weak cut here, but there are highlights. There are three excellent duets. The first is the soul-drenched country of "Tragedy" with Shelby Lynne, (co-written by Angelo Petraglia). "Tragedy" details the failings of a man in love and his desperate unwillingness to accept that this may be the end. Lynne's a perfect foil, underscoring Wolf's pleading with pure Southern soul singing; she's empathic but defiant. It's a sad song but horns, Stax-style guitar, B-3, and a rhythm section create an infectious groove. "Green Fields of Summer" with Neko Case is inspired by a traditional melody that could have been sung by Fairport Convention. The set closer with Merle Haggard (in amazing voice here), melds the pair in a country waltz that sums up the regret that stands monolithically in the hearts of those who've failed. Wolf rocks here too: "I Don't Wanna Know," with its big ringing guitars and wailing harmonica, is a betrayal song to dance to. "Watch Her Move" is a snaky, nocturnal old-school R&B tune that shakes in modern parlance. "There's Still Time" is the album's hinge piece. Slowly beginning with acoustic and electric guitars, it gradually soars, adding a string section and a gospel-ized backing chorus. Wolf declares his self-aware protagonist's isolated way of living, the cost he's willingly paid for it, and his decision to abandon himself fearlessly to whatever he encounters because that's what actual living requires. "Thick as Thieves" is a scorching electric blues number that wouldn't sound out of place on a North Mississippi Allstars record. "Overnight Lows" is a humorous, soul morality tale where the singer wears his heart -- and faults --on his sleeve. "The Night Comes Down (For Willy DeVille)" is a big rock anthem delivered in an intimate way. Midnight Souvenirs is a terrific dark-night-of-the-soul album, but it doesn't mope. It's made for driving, dancing alone in the living room, or merely pondering your next move, while snapping your fingers, of course.

Product Details

Release Date: 04/06/2010
Label: Verve
UPC: 0602527299532
catalogNumber: 001389602
Rank: 27636

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Peter Wolf   Primary Artist,Harmonica,Background Vocals
Ada Dyer   Background Vocals
Duke Levine   Banjo,Guitar,Mandolin,Mandola
Marty Ballou   Upright Bass
Kevin Barry   Guitar,Lap Steel Guitar
Larry Campbell   Fiddle,Guitar,Mandolin,Pedal Steel Guitar
Crispin Cioe   Alto Saxophone
James "D-Train" Williams   Background Vocals
Babi Floyd   Background Vocals
Mike Harvey   Background Vocals
Shawn Pelton   Drums
Marty Richards   Drums
Catherine Russell   Background Vocals
Antoine Silverman   Violin
Kenny White   Bass,Guitar,Piano,Conga,Keyboards,Background Vocals
Arno Hecht   Tenor Saxophone
Anik Oulianine   Cello
Kris Delmhorst   Vocal Harmony
Jonathan Dinklage   Violin
Anja Wood   Cello
Entcho Todorov   Violin
Chris Cardona   Violin
Paul Bryan   Bass

Technical Credits

Merle Haggard   Duet
Shelby Lynne   Duet
Peter Wolf   Composer,Producer,Re-arranged,Drawing
Chuck Prophet   Composer
Joe Blaney   Engineer
Rob Eaton   Engineer
Will Jennings   Composer
Paul Q. Kolderie   Engineer
Angelo Petraglia   Composer
Charlton Pettus   Engineer
Taylor Rhodes   Composer
Allen Toussaint   Composer
Ben Wisch   Engineer
Chris Rival   Engineer
Antoine Silverman   String Arrangements
Kenny White   Producer
Neko Case   Duet
Bob Thiele   Composer
Frank Olinsky   Graphic Consultant
John Baruck   Management
John Squicciarino   Engineer
Adam Brass   Engineer

Customer Reviews

Midnight Souvenirs 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
EdNY More than 1 year ago
Loved the first two J. Geils Band albums but thought most of the rest of them shouldn't have been made. Haven't listened to anything else by Peter Wolf. On Rolling Stone's recommendation I purchased Midnight Souvenirs and I'm glad I did. It's not vintage Wolf. To me, it's new Wolf. The songs are good. His collaborators are good. It doesn't have the drive of J. Geils, but then Wolf's not in his 20s. The music suits him. I'd definitely give this CD a try.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago