Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

The John Doe Thing 

Freedom Is . . .
(spinART)

John Doe hasn't completely shed his past. No matter how rootsy or burly he makes his records, the erstwhile X frontman is followed around by remnants of his former band. Whether it's enlisting familiar-sounding female backing singers to do the job once filled by Exene Cervenka or occasionally letting his punk susceptibility show, Doe carries around a lot of baggage. On his third solo album, Freedom Is ... (which is credited to the John Doe Thing), he unloads some of the weight, freeing himself somewhat from the shackles.

Too bad, then, that Freedom Is ... isn't nearly as grand as anything X recorded on its first four albums. It's often stifling, frequently tedious, and just not very interesting. The songs are sharper here than they were on 1995's hulking Kissingsohard; they're also less adventurous. This is about as close to the mainstream Doe is probably ever going to get. It's a slickly produced work, expertly executed by L.A.-based hired hands, yet it feels depressingly detached. And it's the very solid nature of Freedom Is ... that's to blame. Part of X's allure was the ragged glory it applied to its music. The professionalism that anchors this album also disables it from really taking off. When Doe actually makes a connection -- "Catch Me" and "Sueltame," particularly -- it's because his songwriting is at its smartest, even if the songs themselves aren't really that captivating.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

More by Michael Gallucci

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 23, 2020

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar

Staff Pick Events

  • Open Turntable Tuesday @ The Winchester

    • Tuesdays

© 2020 Cleveland Scene: 737 Bolivar Rd., Suite 4100, Cleveland, OH 44115, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.


Website powered by Foundation