Press Play

Exene Cervenka and The Original Sinner

It’s hard not to hear Exene Cervenka’s new solo album Sev7en as an X record without John Doe. All the X staples are there: surf guitar, rockabilly chord progressions and lyrics about trashy L.A. hipsters. Any X fan is bound to feel a twinge of disappointment when their subconscious realizes it’s not going to hear John Doe chime in after Exene’s first verse. In fact, Sev7en sounds so much like an X record that it begs the question: why not just dust off your copy of Wild Gift or Under the Big Black Sun?

In the press release that came with the CD, Cervenka mentions that her favorite songs to write and sing are sad songs, because they’re the ones that move her the most. So it’s no surprise that the best songs on Sev7en are the slow, sad ones like “Tavern Love” and “Lonesome War,” songs that betray how rooted in country music Cervenka’s songwriting is. “Tavern Love” features some pedal steel guitar played by Billy Zoom sound-alike Jason Edge while “Lonesome War” sounds like one of X’s slow folk-punk songs.

The rest of the songs on Sev7en are pretty much by the book rockabilly songs that feature Cervenka’s pulp fiction lyrics about “matchstick girls” and messy relationships. Which once again has me wondering: what makes Sev7en any different than an X record? Cervenka’s work with The Knitters allowed her to explore her love of folk and country music, but the Original Sinners just aren’t bringing anything new to the table.

The only listeners I can truly recommend Sev7en to are those die-hard Exene Cervenka fans that love her voice and lyrics so much they can’t possibly hate anything she does. I’m like that with Morrissey, who has released his share of mediocre albums, so I understand. But ultimately, it seems like Sev7en was recorded for Cervenka’s amusement, making the album pretty much redundant for anyone familiar with her past work.

Daniel Krow