Pools of Mercury
This release marks the long-awaited return of the Jim Carroll Band, so to speak. Jim Carroll released a spoken word album in 1991, but not since 1984’s I Write Your Name has he released any new songs with a backing band. Pools of Mercury combines Carroll’s spoken word genius with brand new songs by a revamped version of the Jim Carroll Band.
Carroll assembled a professional group of musicians to back him up this time around, and somewhat missed is the amateurishness of his old band. Although, “Falling Down Laughing” nearly captures the verging on punk feel of 1980’s Catholic Boy. The real standouts here are not so much the new songs, but Carroll’s confident readings of some of his more current poetry. He reads selections from his recently published collection of poetry, Fear of Dreaming, as well as some newly-written poems. Accompanying his readings are some musical backdrops that recall the atmospheric works of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois.
In his readings, Jim Carroll comes across like the ultimate hipster, whose every word works some kind of magic on the minds of his listeners. Carroll’s poems touch on themes of obsession, artistic turmoil, and woman as the symbol of poetic inspiration, that come to a climax in “8 Fragments for Kurt Cobain,” one of the most credible and heartfelt meditations on the tragic death of Kurt Cobain. Mercury Records, 825 Eighth Avenue, Eigth Floor, New York, NY 10019