When I interviewed Ezra Furman in Austin a couple weeks ago, I was surprised by what a nice, unassuming young man he appeared to be. One of my biggest fears when I meet an artist for the first time is they’re going to immediately hate me. Right after that my fear is that they might use the interview as a forum to convey their hatred for Zionists (really happened to a friend of mine).
Nothing about our 20-minute conversation on and off camera made me think Ezra was anything but a good guy who happens to be a musician. He didn’t have any of the disdain for the press or quiet prickishness that sometimes goes along with prolific songwriters.
If you know the person I’m talking about, congratulations. If you don’t, it’s Ryan Adams. I use Mr. Adams here because I think he has a lot in common with Ezra Furman: They both have a ridiculous number of songs written that will most likely never see the light of day, they both write about deeply personal topics, and they’re both in a constantly frustrating battle to become Paul Westerberg.
With the new album, Mysterious Power, Ezra comes closer than either of them have before. His voice constantly going low to high, trembling. He screams with the best of them on songs like “Hard Time In a Terrible Land,” and he has the sweetness of a little cherub on the title track “Mysterious Power.”
This song is one of the best title tracks I’ve ever heard. It’s true that generally a title track is considered to be one of the, if not the, strongest tracks, but it goes one step further here. “Mysterious Power” takes the entire record and sums it up in a tad over three minutes. It touches on faith, the ability music has to raise us up, adolescent peculiarity, and happy loneliness.
Mysterious Power is an album chock-full of beautifully written songs from one of Chicago’s greatest artists. This is the third Ezra Furman album, and according to our conversation he wants to start recording again as soon as possible. I, for one, can’t wait.
- Ezra Furman and The Harpoons, of Chicago, will be playing a record release party on April 23 at Subterranean with Tristen and The Apache Relay. Tickets are $10.
- The Harpoons are: Adam Abrutyn (drums), Andrew Langer (guitar), Job Mukkada (bass) and, well, Ezra Furman (vocals).
- You can preview a handful of Mysterious Power tracks on the Harpoons’ Facebook page.