October 16, 2021

Ezra Furman – “Big Fugitive Life” is a dressing-up box of delights

BELLA UNION   19th August 2016

Apparently “a group of our favourite orphaned songs that have banded together to form a unit”, this generous EP is the perfect Ezra Furman sampler, coming at you from different facets of Ezra’s psyche. He’s a borrower and the set is almost six different personae and I can name some of the places they are coming from.

We kick off with what Ezra calls the rock and roll side (hang on in there, those folks without a record player). Teddy I‘m Ready is an intense strum building to a glam-falsetto-showtune. It belongs in a big modern Broadway show. Halley’s Comet shows us an Ezra who is through with waiting and is feeling inspired. In Little Piece Of Trash, Ezra is one. He gets kicked around, he most strenuously doesn’t care and he almost enlists The E-Street Band to tell us. Big on rock glam camp.

Moving on to the acoustic side, Penetrate is hilarious. Plucked carefully on solo acoustic guitar, it is a thoughtful folk hymn that is half-sincere and half-innuendo. I don’t know what to make of it and love it for its twisted conception. Splash Of Light fails to convince but is over in moments, leaving us with Ezra’s Leonard Cohen moment. The Refugee, dedicated to his grandfather and drawn from Ezra’s Jewish roots in an exodus from the Nazis. In the way that he can’t help doing, he puts on Lenny’s clothes to deliver strung out flat vocal lines, the signature never-ending strum and gypsy-inflected strings.

If you have a little home for camp or dressing up in your heart; if you like a man who plays with image – visually and musically – this can’t help but tickle your ears.