Johnny Dowd "No Regrets"
If, like me your knowledge of Johnny Dowd extends to the odd track on a compilation album, and his appearance in Jim White’s 'Searching for the Wrong Eyed Jesus' documentary, you’d be forgiven for approaching this album with certain expectations. Best ditch them as soon as you can because this is nothing like the Johnny Dowd I thought I was getting.
On first listen, my initial response was “what is this?!” I even thought he’d called it 'No Regrets' as it was his first dalliance with a new style, and if you don’t like it… and so on. Well, as long time fans will know, Dowd dropped the overt Americana/country stylings a few albums back to incorporate the darker side of the genre, with 'No Regrets' all analogue beats and dirty guitars.
Each track is named after a woman in Dowd’s life, the good and the bad. Opening with the simply stalker-creepy 'Betty' (“I know where your children go to school, and where your husband works”) and rattles through another 12 tracks about the women who have excited, stirred and disappointed, with the female vocalists a welcome relief from Dowd’s gravelly acquired-taste vocals. Some will find it difficult and unenjoyable, others will revel in the dark humour, creepiness and disregard for Americana conventions but personally speaking, I’m reminded of something John Peel once said. I’m paraphrasing, but he said someting like whenever he heard an album he didn’t like, he figured it wasn’t the music at fault, but rather he who wasn’t getting it. That’s where I found myself with this.