Upon encountering Jon DeRosa’s music, courtesy of last year’s ‘Anchored’ EP, it was hard not to draw parallels between his journey and that of Richard Hawley. Both were largely unknown for their vocals in the early part of their career and then came to the forefront as modern day crooners some time later. ‘A Wolf In Preacher’s Clothes’ is DeRosa’s first album and one wonders why his voice was hid away for so long.
The New Yorker’s delivery is rich, expressive and elegant like The Divine Comedy’s Neil Hannon when he wasn’t being too theatrical. ‘Birds Of Brooklyn’, ‘Ladies In Love’ and ‘Teenage Goths’ revel in 1960’s classy trappings and ‘True Men’ harks back to the crooners of at least a decade further back. There’s even a respectful and very lovely cover of The Blue Nile’s ‘Easter Parade’, which emphasises the stark beauty of the original but also introduces a tender American viewpoint. However, as it happens, DeRosa impresses most on the most modern-sounding material. ‘Snow Coffin’ came from the earlier EP and stands out for its light but insistent post-punk rumble whilst excellent last track, ‘Hollow Earth Theory’, emphasises his indie songsmith credentials.
‘A Wolf In Preacher’s Clothes’ is undoubtedly a classy album and the arrangements wisely put DeRosa’s vocals to the forefront. Having said that, if more risks were taken and he concentrates on post-1980’s styles and beyond, DeRosa could be pushed into levels of further greatness.
The Divine Comedy, Richard Hawley, Scott Walker, The Blue Nile