Best of 2004: #16 -- Paul Westerberg Folker
This excellent follow-up to last year's spectacular Come Feel Me Tremble finds Paul Westerberg embracing his role as troubled troubadour with gusto. He grabs dysfunction by the guitar neck, replacing hand wringing with toe tapping throughout Folker's briskly-paced 52 minutes. While there are a couple of ballads to be found, such as the maudlin reflections of "23 Years Ago" and the incredulous plea "How Can You Like Him?," head bobbing definitely takes priority over head hanging here.
Without question, the highlight of Folker is "As Far As I Know," easily one of the catchiest tunes in the entire Westerberg oevre (including his years with the legendary Replacements). When he sings, "I'm in love with a dream I had as a kid," you know he's not giving in to the resignation of middle age anytime soon. Just because he's somewhat mellowed since he was a bastard of young doesn't mean he isn't still an onry Folker when he wants to be...and that's why he's as relevant as ever, 'Mats or no 'Mats.