"The Year Of No Returning". The title alone makes it seem like the Chicago-hailing, frail-looking songwriter, having left his Harpoons behind to make a solo album, may want to grow up after all - or like he's gone so far, he finds it difficult to come back to himself.
The classic americana opener "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" introduces a dualism present across the whole album, while "American Soil" just reinforces the belief that this is a pure, straight-forward rock'n'roll album. At this point, Mr. Furman pushes all of our expectations overboard by presenting ballads of incredible sadness, self-irony and power, like "Lay In The Sun" or "Down" - or even "Sinking Slow", where the unbearable heaviness of having been left heard in his husky voice counters a refrain where he breaks into song with a musical shrugging of the shoulders accompanied by piano. The catchy "That's When It Hit Me" is the Rebel Without A Cause of this record: all sunglasses, blue jeans, bloody lips and black eye, it plays tough like hell trying to hide its soft heart.
In the real, literal, positive-and-negative sense of the word, "The Year Of No Returning" is a bipolar album. It's a manic-depressive, obsessive-compulsive record that throws the listener around in its restlessness, relying on Ezra's wonderfully quirky vocals and a variety of instruments as diverse as xylophone, harmonica and strings or brass and piano. Strangely enough, the most theatrical track on the album - the one that puts you smack in the middle of a cabaret with Ezra attempting to amuse, gesticulating and nodding to each strophe, so Tom-Waits-like in that smoky setting - is also the most confessional one. "All those people with their expectations make me so nervous", he admits. And all of us have been able to, at one time or another, relate to this confession: because in all these years, there was never a moment Ezra Furman didn't want to make songs that were made for each and every one of his listeners.