Record Review 

Fate will have its say, and there's little that one's will can do about it. That's what W.W. Jacobs' creepy, circa-junior high short story "The Monkey's Paw" warns the reader, imploring that you should be careful what you wish for. Inside Jack Logan's new release Monkey Paw, fate and will resurface, albeit in a number of different contexts.

Even seven years after the fact, it's still hard not to compare anything the Winder-based Logan does to Bulk, his 1994, 42-song salvo of lo-fi. The album operated in a land of off-handed eloquence, full of ditties, country to pop to blues and back again. He evoked a sort of backporch Bob Pollard -- back when Pollard was less concerned with making T-Rex-sized music.

The releases since then, while still jumping genres, have been more cohesive, from the rocking Liquor Cabinet incarnation to the quiet of Little Private Angel (the album he recorded with Bob Kimbell) to the 1999 Capricorn release Buzz Me In (which included a high school marching band's-worth of collaborators).

Monkey Paw begins with the sound of a dragster's engine idling and taking off underneath a handful of drum beats and a few notes from a slide guitar that evolve into the title track, a swampy, horn-backed break-up ode. "You know possession's nine-tenths of the law/forget that lawyer, you better use your monkey paw," Logan sneers. The album's third track, "Rain Me Out," recalls Paul Westerberg -- after the Replacements but before he got all Bacharachian -- and here again, Logan seems to evoke the album's title, pleading with a lover who might be on the brink of leaving. Over an ambling rhythm, Logan sleepily croons, "Those days gone by, let's forget them/It all works out, if we just let them."

Like his other releases, Logan isn't pinned down to one style. From "Rain Me Out," the album rolls into "Scared of the Police," complete with insistent hook and a punked-up chorus where Logan thinks about leading a high-speed chase. But this album belongs more to the night than it does to the day, and you can feel it in songs like "I Wonder Where You Are." A resigned lover who has banished any hope of love with his ex gives into reflex and painful curiosity in looking for what's been left for dead. Above drums played quiet and hungover, and a steel guitar that's just right, Logan sings, "But when I step into a tavern, I move my eyes across the bar/And though I never want to look at you again, I wonder where you are."

Like Logan's other releases, Monkey Paw doesn't break any new musical ground. But it's the kind of release you might go to time after time when there's too much drink in your head and no one at your side.


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