Don’t Be A Stranger, the new solo album from Mark Eitzel, sounds like a defiant last stand and the work of a man going down fighting.
Eitzel’s voice is well-wore, hollow, and haunting. The open, yet intimate arrangements around it amplify the effect. Despite his gentler vocals and quieter compositions, the lyrics give Don’t Be A Stranger a sharp bite.
The album begins with Eitzel walking us through visions of the past. On “I Love You But You’re Dead” he shows us the broken promises of a run-down rock club. “The Bill Is Due” chronicles the recurring stress of the end of the month.
Eitzel sounds most sardonic on “Oh Mercy,” a song in which he inhabits a cynical party guest. He slides into the song’s brilliant chorus sounding like the greasy guy who thinks he’s the epitome of cool. After terrorizing party guests with talk of fascism, the coming doom of the USA and dirty jokes, he turns in on himself. “Who, who who, who am I? I’m a gho-o-o-ost driftin’ by,” he sings.
These dark, but funny surroundings lend weight to the moments when Don’t Be A Stranger describes the lessons learned from them. “We All Have To Find Our Own Way Out” showcases Eitzel’s voice over simple piano chords as he counsels himself to stand on his own. He’s not going down with the ship. “You know what? I’ll hold your hand, but I won’t drown.”
Don’t Be A Stranger may feel like a depressing album at first, but this is a record for folks who have taken their lumps and are still battling.
Mark Eitzel will play Kings Barcade on December 8. Tickets are $12 in advance.