fri 07/05/2021

CD: Ezra Furman - Transangelic Exodus | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Ezra Furman - Transangelic Exodus

CD: Ezra Furman - Transangelic Exodus

The gender-fluid American singer-songwriter delivers a State of the Nation address

Transangelic Exodus is a roller-coaster ride. Songs twist, turn, have sudden shifts in tempo, are punctuated by unexpected instrumental interjections, and come to a dead stop after which they resume their unpredictable course. Although Ezra Furman's musical touchstones of late Fifties pop and The Modern Lovers are still apparent, the follow-up to 2015’s Perpetual Motion People comes across as nothing less than a vigorously shaken-and-stirred take on pre-Born in the USA Bruce Springsteen.

Furman says the narrative thread running through the frenzied Transangelic Exodus is his being “in love with an angel, and a government is after us, and we have to leave home because angels are illegal as is harbouring angels. The terms ‘transangelic’ refers to the fact people become angels because they grow wings. They have an operation, and they’re transformed.” He’s also said James Baldwin’s 1956 novel Giovanni's Room, a consideration of the tensions between being straight, gay and bi, has been an influence. Anger courses through the album as he sings of encountering a maraschino-red dress in the charity shop Goodwill and a hair-raising drive to Los Angeles during which he and his companion are visited by what seems to be the devil.

Given that Furman is self-declared as gender-fluid it’s not hard to see Transangelic Exodus as a commentary on his home country, the United States. His relationship with the Jewish faith is another topic he is not shy of discussing. He’s also been very clear about his appreciation of Lou Reed as well as his inability to settle in one place. The drawback with being so open is that the music can be left behind. For any potential audience, the man and his music can become disconnected: autonomous entities.

All of which means Transangelic Exodus comes freighted with expectations, chiefly whether as a whole it can deliver this singular artist’s vision in a unified fashion. Unsurprisingly, the resultant album indeed turns out to be a roller-coaster ride through a very particular worldview. Could it be anything else?

Overleaf: watch the video for “Driving Down to LA” from Transangelic Exodus

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