Don Lennon – Downtown (Secretly Canadian)

The comparisons of Don Lennon to Jonathan Richman are spot on. It’s not only his simple guitar chord-led music, or his baritone voice or his mighty silly lyrics but a melange of all of the above. His absurd songs are made only moreso by their pop culture references. Not one but two songs about Dave Matthews appear on Downtown and despite myself I smile everytime I hear the lyric “Dave Matthews Band comes alive / at a microbrewery / or a Chili’s bar and grill” from “Matthews Comes Alive.” The song is of course told from the point of view of Dave himself — an hilarious concept. Likewise, “Lenny Kravitz and Lisbon” ridicules Kravitz not with savage bon mots but by the simple inclusion in such a ridiculous song. At first listen, such pop culture humor seems to weigh the album down, but the songs’ ultimate tunefulness and the concise length of both the songs and the album as a whole leave it bubbling in your memory. “Gay Fun” is just what its name implies. It might be the tenth listen before you crack up at “Jean Michel”‘s metric measurements. And Don’s dream in “John Cale” is melancholy and warmly amusing and a perfect closer.