Townes Van Zandt,
(Normal, 1999)

Abnormal was the first CD I got by Townes Van Zandt. I was feeling down that night ... it was one of those nights when you sit by the stereo with a bottle of red wine and lose yourself in your world, a world no one else can touch.

With this album, Van Zandt lets you into his world. I'm a huge folk music fan, but had only heard of Van Zandt. When I got this album that night, it fit my mood like a perfect shoe. He writes dark, sad, introspective songs that are so real it's as if he pulled then out of Appalachian soil.

On Abnormal, those qualities reach a pinnacle. I dare say he never released an album as morbid, yet powerful as this. It helped me get through that night and many others like it. It offers stunning, haunting versions of "Lung," "Dollar Bill Blues," "Waitin' Around to Die," "A Song For" and plenty of other classics live.

It has always amazed me to hear the power one man and his guitar can possess. Since buying this album, I've bought many other Van Zandt recordings, and this remains one of my favorites. It was released just around his death, the last live album, or album of any kind, that he released. It's one of his best, no doubt.

If you are a new fan or seasoned Van Zandt lover, this is for you. The album's first track, a cover of the legendary song of the folk circle, "Coo-Coo," pulls you right into the bleak, lonely, drunken wasteland in which he lived. But somehow, he mixes those flavors into one masterful piece of work.

Many reviewers have described Van Zandt as a more down-to-Earth Leonard Cohen. That is as true as could be, and on Abnormal there is just no denying the comparison. Buy this album, and prepare to be taken into a new universe.

- Rambles
written by Gianmarc Manzione
published 19 April 2003

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