On Thursday night Silos bandleader Water Salas-Humara plays a solo show at Martyrs', and I expect his set to include plenty of tunes from the excellent new record You Are All My People (Bloodshot). It's credited to an entity called I'm Not Jim and it's essentially a one-off collaboration between Salas-Humara and superb Brooklyn novelist Jonathan Lethem. (That's the group in the photo: Lethem is standing on the left and Salas-Humara is seated.) Lethem, a longtime Silos fan, introduced himself to Salas-Humara after a concert a few years ago, intending to send him some books as a token of his appreciation, but after they chatted for a bit the singer suggested they write some songs together.
With the exception of a couple of witty spoken-word interludes, You Are All My People isn't too different from Salas-Humara's previous work--sturdy, rustic melodies; plaintive, gritty vocals; midtempo guitar-stoked grooves. Though Lethem is obviously reining in his energetic prose for the sake of song form, he has a nerdy zeal for several subjects Salas-Humara doesn't usually address--sports, for instance--that brings a charming novelty to some of the tunes. "The Pitchers Gave Up," for example, imagines a world in which pitchers leave baseball to create their own alternate reality "Where hits are illegal / And hitters get shot / Home runs are unheard of / Every runner is caught." Elsewhere Lethem's black humor takes over: "Drink 'Til I'm Sober" blurs together steely determination and boozy self-destruction, one moment proclaiming "I'm gonna grab what I need / Live the biggest life you ever seen" and in the next admitting "I'm gonna fall to my bare knees / I'm gonna grope for my car keys / Gonna phone up my ex-wife / Tell her everything that I love about life."
Salas-Humara will be joined for a few songs by guitarist Jason Victor, who will then play the headlining set as a member of Steve Wynn's Miracle 3.
Lage Lund, Early Songs (Criss Cross)
Volume, Æter (Ninth World Music)
Rhonda Vincent, Good Thing Going (Rounder)
Fire Room, Broken Music (Atavistic)
Carrie Rodriguez, She Ain’t Me (Manhattan)