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Dr John

City That Care Forgot

On “City That Care Forgot”, released Monday 2nd June 2008, Dr. John delivers an elegantly elegiac homage to his drowned hometown that’s at once an incredible collection of songs – possibly his best work of the past two decades – and a bold statement and cultural event. Musically anchored with that legendary gravely drawl and a buoyant riot of swamp-voodoo piano grooves (and aid from a few friends like Eric Clapton) the album’s 14 tracks also provide a lyrical reminder that the rawness and divisions exposed by Hurricane Katrina are as fresh as ever.
Infused with elements of barrelhouse funk and freewheeling proto-rock, at times Dr. John raises as much hell as he does questions. But his hopeful, if harrowing, songwriting never loses the notion that once we start to address our problems we can heal as a nation. The songs, at a time when the word « change » seems to be everybody’s buzzword, are at once a musical return to roots, yet suffused with an unusual urgency.
On the loping, blues-inflected « Time For A Change », Dr. John conjures what could be considered « What’s Going On » for the YouTube generation, as he manages to provide a rollicking good time while holding forth on such on issues as the war in Iraq and the current administration. In contrast, the stirring title track is simple – and life-affirming – requiem for the victims of Katrina – leading off an album that stands as a sad, searing, sacrilegious, and ultimately auspicious statement that promises to stand as one of the most compelling and enduring musical statements of this complex era. Regarded as a celebrated icon and peerless performer, Dr. John’s live shows continue to garner praise. The New York Times pop critic Jon Pareles referred to a recent concert as « part tradition, part theatre, and geared for a good time », whilst Daily Variety writer David Sprague added, « A roof-raising big-band boogie-monster”.