Peter Wolf is no longer content to just pump out the boogie tunes he regularly sang with Boston’s favorite party band, The J. Geils Band. His new, fourteen song, Midnight Souvenirs is what JGB may have sounded like if they grew up and never disbanded. Wolf's stellar eighth solo album still discusses the same subjects his old band tackled but now, instead of proclaiming "Love Stinks," the protagonist takes on a more worldly and mature view of his situation. Today, when he falls for a girl he views her as more than just an "Angel in a Centerfold."
There are three duets. The CD's opening track is an outstanding performance with country all-star Shelby Lynne. "Tragedy" is a gritty, up tempo ballad that is pure rhythm and blues peppered with just enough of Lynne's country twang that allows the song to please fans of both genres. There is a second duet, "It's Too Late For Me," with Merle Haggard, and just as Lynne does with her turn, the country veteran puts his own stamp on a ballad that would fit quite nicely on a Haggard record. Finally, on "The Green Fields of Summer," an unexpected ballad about true love, Wolf shares the spotlight with the more contemporary Neko Case.
Then there are the upbeat Americana rockers, "I Don't Want to Know" and "The Night Comes Down" (dedicated to the late Willy Deville) with their radio-friendly arrangements, as well as the pure funk of "Everything I Do (Gonna Be Funky)" and The Rolling Stones influenced "Watch Her Move." The two latter tunes are as close as Wolf comes to his old JGB days. The Philly soul of "Overnight Lows" sounds like Harold Melvin and The Blue Notes, Hall & Oates, and anyone else who ever recorded in The City of Brotherly Love. The track would make Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff proud.
Over time, we've learned that Wolf's knowledge of American pop music is far deeper than most fans would have ever suspected back in his hit making days with Geils and it helps make Midnight Souvenirs satisfying in many ways.