T Bone Burnett

It’s years back, in a rowdy Jersey roadhouse, where a lanky performer peeks over his shades to see if anyone is listening. Most aren’t. Abruptly, he strides out the door. The curious follow him to the parking lot, where, perched on a station wagon, he finishes the show. T BONE BURNETT has always liked calling his shots, and the Fort Worth—raised musician—now armed with both a double- CD collection and his first album of new material in fourteen years—is a control freak with unerring instincts. From his mid-seventies stint with the Alpha Band to a series of stylistically varied and untrendy solo albums, Burnett stood out as an iconoclast. His sardonic, witty tunes (“Boomerang,” “Shake Yourself Loose,” “The People’s Limousine”), anthologized on TWENTY TWENTY: THE ESSENTIAL T BONE BURNETT ( DMZ/Legacy), were sculpted in their precision; his labored-over recordings sounded anything but. He applied this skill to his producing career, creating albums for Elvis Costello and Los Lobos, hits for the Counting Crows, and the megamillion-selling O Brother Where Art Thou sound track. From there Burnett didn’t look back. He still hasn’t: Worth the wait, THE TRUE FALSE IDENTITY (DMZ/Columbia) is unlike anything he has recorded before. Tribal, melodic, pounding rock (many tracks feature three drummers) places Burnett’s satiric wordplay on an almost holographic soundscape. Marc Ribot’s guitar growls lend to the primal Plastic Ono Band urgency. Burnett jabs at a society where religion preaches hate, where decisions are based on fear. Unease with today’s world has allowed him to create one all his own.

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