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Jeff Klein on The Hustler - I wanted to make each song its own little special piece

Feature: Jack Foley

"RECORDING in New Orleans influenced everything about this record," explains Jeff Klein, when talking about his new album, The Hustler.

"It’s such a rich, diverse culture," Jeff recalls of his New Orleans sojourn. "Between music and food and religion, it makes the hair on your arms stand up when you’re walking down the street.

"You feel the electricity in the air. It just makes you feel more creative. And there’s so much decadence: It’s so frightening and so amazing and jaw dropping at the same time. And it’s the only city in the whole world where a guy can get laid for playing the tuba."

Jeff Klein’s second album (released through One Little Indian Records) was Everybody Loves a Winner, which won acclaim in both the US and UK press for its unflinching, finely drawn depictions of lust and love and the mistakes those impulses can engender.

The Hustler marks a departure from the style of Everybody Loves A Winner, however, as Klein states.

"I grew up on indie rock, Marvin Gaye and William Bell," he says. "I don’t want to be the guy with the acoustic guitar in the coffee house.

"Everybody Loves A Winner was so stripped-down because the songs had a stripped-down vibe. I wanted this record to be as rich sounding as possible.

"I wanted to do something completely and utterly different than my last record; it’s a lot more musical, with a lot more texture to it. Aesthetically, that’s what I was feeling."

The Hustler is atmospheric and eclectic, but don’t let that scare you.

It features contributions from Ani DiFranco, Soul Asylum’s Dave Pirner and Afghan Whigs/Twilight Singers auteur Greg Dulli, who co-produced it with Mike Napolitano (Blind Melon, Joseph Arthur) in an atmosphere suited to Jeff’s darkly sexy, sometimes disturbingly intimate songs.

Continues Klein: "I wanted to make each song its own little special piece."

What ties these individual set-pieces together, however, is Klein’s voice – both his whiskey-and-nicotine rasp and the stylistic voice of his songwriting.

"Everybody has a style with which they do their thing; I don’t know what the hell my style of songwriting is, but it’s thematic, like a diary or a movie," he comments.

Further, The Hustler 'is pretty much a documentation of a year of my life'.

"I don’t write fiction because I don’t feel like I’m good at writing fiction. I try to keep my songs as honest as possible," he maintains.

"It does get me into trouble sometimes. I always change the names to protect the innocent, but there are some people who blatantly know that some songs are about them and their experiences.

"I know my family hears my songs and wonders what the hell is going on. I don’t always make the smartest choices in the world, but I have no regrets. I enjoy it. Everybody needs to make their mistakes."

The Hustler: Reviewed

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