Two years after the breakup of the Plimsouls, Peter Case returned with a solo album that departed from soul-tinged rock ‘n’ roll and moved to folk and blues rendered in modern hues. T-Bone Burnett’s production includes electric guitars and drums, but they’re layered carefully among acoustic and synthetic elements. Case’s new material sported more abstract surfaces and tackled introspective and socially conscious themes, and combined with Burnett’s production, led the singer to more subtle vocals. A few of the songs, including “Walk in the Woods” and the Pogues’ “Pair of Brown Eyes,” are narrative, but others, including “Echo Wars,” “Steel Strings” and “I Shook His Hand” remain more open ended.
Case’s is matched by Burnett and the assembled musicians, as harmonica and percussive guitar are backed by a Van Dyke Parks string arrangement on “Small Town Spree,” and Jerry Marotta’s drum machine adds texture on several tracks. Omnivore’s 2016 reissue includes a sixteen-page booklet with new liner notes by Case, and expands the original twelve-track lineup with seven bonuses. The latter features acoustic versions of “Steel Strings” and “I Shook His Hand” previously issued on the promo-only Selections from Peter Case, and five vault finds. Latter day fans who haven’t dug back this far in Case’s catalog now have a reason to do so, and fans have a good reason to upgrade. [©2016 Hyperbolium]