A Year In The Wilderness

John Doe. Yep Roc.

| Sat Jun. 30, 2007 2:00 AM EDT

Emotions run hot in the music of John Doe, who's matured since his days as a shouter with the L.A. punk band X. Keeping the restless edge of old, he's become a soulful singer able to make sullen rockers or dusty country ballads feel like pleas for help. Doe's characters brood in hotel rooms and count highway miles, grasping at smoke rings of happiness. "I am the aching in your heart," he wails in "The Golden State," a sublime duet with Kathleen Edwards. Elsewhere, he mutters, "I feel bad, but not bad enough." Nobody captures the lonely and desperate better.