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Howe Gelb|Future Standards

Future Standards

Howe Gelb

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In February 2016, Howe Gelb made the surprising announcement that he was retiring his longtime project Giant Sand, and while he didn't offer specifics about what he was going to do next, he did end his statement with the words, "Piano for now. Songs forever." Those five words turned out to be an excellent summation of Future Standards, an album that Gelb issued roughly ten months later. Future Standards finds the great Arizona surrealist transforming himself into an alternate world version of Frank Sinatra, singing his own brand of saloon songs suitable for a late night and a glass of good bourbon. Most of Future Standards features Gelb accompanied by piano, bass, and drums, and the melodies pay unironic tribute to the graceful jazz-influenced pop sounds of the '40s and '50s. This is music meant for a cabaret or a piano lounge, not a rock club, and Gelb not only plays it straight, he sounds comfortable and playfully sly as he croons over his piano work, which manages to embrace the melodies while toying with them at the same time, while the drummer stirs the soup and the bassist gently tends to the low end. While this sounds very little like Giant Sand, this is very much a Howe Gelb album; the lyrics, most dealing with affairs of the heart, are gentler than many of his best known works, but there's still an edge of purposeful eccentricity that's authentically his in tunes like "May You Never Fall in Love," "Terribly So," and "Mad Man at Large." And the occasional vocal interjections of Lonna Kelley add a romantic touch while maintaining an off-kilter feel that serves this music remarkably well. Future Standards isn't quite "Howe Gelb, the Moonlight, and You," but it's closer than anyone might expect, and he plays lounge lizard here entirely on his own terms, and it's a thoroughly enjoyable detour for a multi-faceted artist.
© Mark Deming /TiVo

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Future Standards

Howe Gelb

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1
Terribly So
00:03:52

Howe Gelb, MainArtist

2016 Fire Records 2016 Fire Records

2
Irresponsible Lovers
00:03:51

Howe Gelb, MainArtist

2016 Fire Records 2016 Fire Records

3
A Book You've Read Before
00:03:35

Howe Gelb, MainArtist

2016 Fire Records 2016 Fire Records

4
Relevant
00:03:00

Howe Gelb, MainArtist

2016 Fire Records 2016 Fire Records

5
Ownin' It
00:03:13

Howe Gelb, MainArtist

2016 Fire Records 2016 Fire Records

6
Clear
00:02:47

Howe Gelb, MainArtist

2016 Fire Records 2016 Fire Records

7
Impossible Thing
00:02:33

Howe Gelb, MainArtist

2016 Fire Records 2016 Fire Records

8
The Shiver Revisted
00:03:39

Howe Gelb, MainArtist

2016 Fire Records 2016 Fire Records

9
Mad Man at Large
00:02:05

Howe Gelb, MainArtist

2016 Fire Records 2016 Fire Records

10
May You Never Fall In Love
00:03:42

Howe Gelb, MainArtist

2016 Fire Records 2016 Fire Records

11
Sweet Confusion
00:02:43

Howe Gelb, MainArtist

2016 Fire Records 2016 Fire Records

12
Mad Man at Home
00:02:06

Howe Gelb, MainArtist

2016 Fire Records 2016 Fire Records

Album Description

In February 2016, Howe Gelb made the surprising announcement that he was retiring his longtime project Giant Sand, and while he didn't offer specifics about what he was going to do next, he did end his statement with the words, "Piano for now. Songs forever." Those five words turned out to be an excellent summation of Future Standards, an album that Gelb issued roughly ten months later. Future Standards finds the great Arizona surrealist transforming himself into an alternate world version of Frank Sinatra, singing his own brand of saloon songs suitable for a late night and a glass of good bourbon. Most of Future Standards features Gelb accompanied by piano, bass, and drums, and the melodies pay unironic tribute to the graceful jazz-influenced pop sounds of the '40s and '50s. This is music meant for a cabaret or a piano lounge, not a rock club, and Gelb not only plays it straight, he sounds comfortable and playfully sly as he croons over his piano work, which manages to embrace the melodies while toying with them at the same time, while the drummer stirs the soup and the bassist gently tends to the low end. While this sounds very little like Giant Sand, this is very much a Howe Gelb album; the lyrics, most dealing with affairs of the heart, are gentler than many of his best known works, but there's still an edge of purposeful eccentricity that's authentically his in tunes like "May You Never Fall in Love," "Terribly So," and "Mad Man at Large." And the occasional vocal interjections of Lonna Kelley add a romantic touch while maintaining an off-kilter feel that serves this music remarkably well. Future Standards isn't quite "Howe Gelb, the Moonlight, and You," but it's closer than anyone might expect, and he plays lounge lizard here entirely on his own terms, and it's a thoroughly enjoyable detour for a multi-faceted artist.
© Mark Deming /TiVo

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