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Greenland (Cooking Vinyl)

Greenland is a wistful journey into David Lowery's past, with ports of call both literal -- Northern California, the British Isles, Morocco -- and figurative. It's Cracker's strongest offering since its early '90s high point, Kerosene Hat, and at times recalls the exotic aura of Camper Van Beethoven's 1989 masterpiece, Key Lime Pie.

"Something You Ain't Got" opens the disc with organ swells, barroom piano, and high plains lap steel, a reminder that Lowery has always excelled at these elegiac country-rockers. "Where Have Those Days Gone" is a propulsive road song that picks up momentum as it courses through Lowery's Northern California past, reaching the same resigned-but-redeemed destination as the cheekier "I Need Better Friends." The trancelike blues track "Sidi Ifni" is the album's centerpiece, a six-minute epic about the former ex-pat stronghold in southern Morocco that has succumbed, like Lowery's narrator, to time's ravages. With just a misstep or two among its 14 cuts, Greenland may plumb nostalgic themes, but Lowery sounds like he's born anew.

Speaking of CD Review

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