Penn delivers diverse compilationWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Penn is a thoughtful guy. Listen to “Palms & Runes, Tarot & Tea: The Michael Penn Collection,” released earlier this month.
“Legacy called me up and now that BMG and Sony had merged, they had my whole back catalog and they wanted to do a retrospective album,” Penn said from an L.A. coffee shop. “And I was very appreciative that they wanted my involvement in it because they didn’t have to — you hear stories all the time about labels putting together these awful collections.
“I didn’t want it to be somebody’s play list, you know, just cuts off the records; that’s something I wouldn’t want to buy if I already own the record,” he said. “So I decided to go through my songs and stuff I still felt connected to, and I put together what to me felt like a real album with cuts that had a trajectory from point A to point B.”
Getting there was fun for the singer/songwriter, who dazzled with his 1989 debut “March,” which featured the hit “No Myth.” Remember Romeo in black jeans? Penn has continued to shine during his 16-year career, albeit quietly. The 20-track collection showcases his sophisticated wordplay, sense of black humor and song craftsmanship.
“I found some alternate takes of things, retracked some of the stuff I had been doing live and just put something together that was a little different,” he said.
Legacy recently reissued Penn’s 2005 independent disc, “Mr. Hollywood Jr., 1947.” The record chronicles life after World War II. Not exactly traditional fare for singers.
“What I started to do with the last record was to keep things interesting for myself. I write songs about relationships between people pulled from my own life and what I see,” he said. “But because I have other interests that aren’t things I want to write songs about, what was nice for me was being able to put songs in a context in a time and place.
“And I’m doing the same thing with the new batch of songs, it’s just that instead of taking place in 1947, it’s going to take place in 1888.”
Penn will be at the Ark in Ann Arbor at 8 p.m. May 8. Tickets are $20.
On the web go to www.michaelpenn.com/main.php for more information