Terry Allen and the Panhandle Mystery Band
Just Like Moby Dick
January 24, 2020
Iconic and iconoclastic Texan songwriter and visual artist Terry Allen’s heartbreaking, hilarious new album, his first set of new songs since 2013’s Bottom of the World, features the full Panhandle Mystery Band, including co-producer Charlie Sexton (Dylan, Bowie, Blaze), Shannon McNally, and Jo Harvey Allen; mainstays Bukka Allen, Richard Bowden, and Lloyd Maines; and co-writes with Joe Ely and Dave Alvin. The connections to Melville’s masterpiece are metaphorical and allusive, as elusive as the White Whale. The masterly spiritual successor to Lubbock (on everything), Just Like Moby Dick casts its net wide for wild stories, depicting, among other monstrous things, Houdini in existential crisis, the death of the last stripper in town, bloodthirsty pirates (in a pseudo-sequel to Brecht and Weill’s “Pirate Jenny”), the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (in the “American Childhood” suite), a vampire-infested circus, mudslides and burning mobile homes, and all manner of tragicomic disasters, abandonments, betrayals, bad memories, failures, and fare-thee-wells.
The deluxe tip-on gatefold 2×LP package features lyrics, color labels, high-res Bandcamp download code, three sides of music, and a fourth side vinyl etching artwork by Allen.
Allen’s songs extract strangeness from the known world & use it as a means of acquiring greater knowledge ... which is as good definition of wisdom as any. – The New Yorker
He’s pretty close to a master lyricist. – The New York Times
Riveting. – NPR
Stunning. – Pitchfork
Aural brilliance. – The Wire
Uniformly eccentric & uncompromising, savage & beautiful, literate & guttural. – Rolling Stone
Allen carries the dust of West Texas in his throat, with a voice like a coyote’s yip & a twang like wind-thrummed barbed wire. – Bandcamp Daily
There may be no greater maverick in all of country music. – AllMusic
A true legend & a hero. I love Terry’s music so much. – Kurt Vile