The Heat, Jesse Malin's second album, is the sound of a young artist determined to attach himself to the heritage of his influences; the New York-based singer-songwriter badly wants to cast himself as a successor to such self-consciously wracked troubadours as Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Malin's one-time producer Ryan Adams and, especially, The Replacements' Paul Westerberg. While there's nothing on The Heat that quite places Malin among such exalted company, there are plenty of indications that he's getting there--and, as someone who wrote and recorded much of this album on the road, Malin should know that the journey is the important part.
Malin's music, while often elevated by spectacular choruses, such as that of "Indian Summer", is entirely orthodox--a slightly countrified rock filtered from Tom Petty via Counting Crows (Petty is also echoed in Malin's vocals). Malin's lyrics, however, are frequently intriguing: "Arrested" and "Silver Manhattan" are well-observed slices of Manhattan lowlife, and "Hotel Columbia" is an affectionate homage to London's premier rock & roll flophouse. This is a fine album from an artist approaching greatness with impressive momentum. --Andrew Mueller