Mr. Hollywood, Jr. 1947
It is rare that someone writes songs as well as Michael Penn does. It is a reasonably rare event when Michael Penn puts out a set of songs anyway, and that is a shame. At the opposite end of the spectrum from Ryan Adams, Penn seems to shape, hone, optimise and perfect each song into something approaching a masterpiece. Like wife Aimee Mann, Penn writes intelligent songs, with a Lennon-like ear and voice, and an Elvis Costello-like lyric, that suggests the Beatles brought bang up to date. Mr Hollywood is only his fifth album in a 16 year career, released on his own label following a dispute with Epic. Penn's younger brothers Sean and Chris are bigger names, and he has dabbled in movies himself (writing the score for Boogie Nights, for example), but it is hard to imagine, once you've heard his songs, a world where Michael also chose acting over music. Mr Hollywood, Jr 1947 is an astonishingly composed album.
Adult Contemporary Essentials
9-10 Essential purchase
7-8 Good, definite buy if you've liked this artist in the past
5-6 OK only, don't say I didn't warn you
3-4 Poor, even for this artist