Peter Wolf continues his long musical journey with A Cure for Loneliness, his eighth solo release that came out last April via Concord. The 12-song album encompasses country, blues, R&B and rock 'n' roll.
A Cure for Loneliness includes nine new originals from the sometimes J. Geils Band frontman, four of them co-written with Grammy/Academy Award-winning songwriter Will Jennings (Steve Winwood). The material ranges from the gospel boogie of "How Do You" to the rousing rock of "Wastin' Time" to the acoustic reverie of "Some Other Time, Some Other Place" to the swinging big-band swagger of "Mr. Mistake" to the introspective balladry of "Peace of Mind" and "Fun For A While."
Other highlights are an audacious bluegrass reworking of the classic J. Geils anthem "Love Stinks," and the stirring soul ballad "It's Raining," which Wolf co-wrote with R&B pioneer Don Covay. Wolf had originally intended to record the song as a duet with soul legend Bobby Womack, but received the news of Womack's death while he was working on the song's instrumental track.
A Cure for Loneliness also features a trio of obscure covers that reflects Wolf's wide-ranging musical interests: the honky-tonk lament "It Was Always So Easy (To Find An Unhappy Woman)," the country heartbreaker "Stranger," and the haunting 50’s ballad "Tragedy."
The thematic centerpiece is its opening track "Rolling On," a spare yet insistent statement of purpose that underlines Wolf's stature as a world-class rock 'n' roll survivor.
"It's a song about getting through life and trying to prevail, and that's what the whole record is about," Wolf states. "It's basically saying 'I'm still here.' Change is constant, but it's not necessarily negative, so you just have to keep rolling on."
Wolf recorded A Cure for Loneliness with a prestigious group of musicians that includes several longtime collaborators such as, keyboardist Kenny White, who co-produced the album with Wolf, and the members of his touring band, the Midnight Travelers: guitarists Duke Levine and Kevin Barry, bassist Marty Ballou, drummers Tom Arey and Shawn Pelton.
"I try to work with musicians where there's compatibility in personalities and musical vision," Wolf notes.
"What's nice is the camaraderie that you develop when you're collaborating with the same group of people over a long period of time. And it's exciting to see what comes together when you're working with artists of enormous talents. I always go in prepared, but you never really know how things are going to work out. Maybe a song that you expected to be a ballad becomes an uptempo song in rehearsal, or vice versa, and that's where the value and excitement of collaboration comes in.
"The technology has changed over the years, but I come out of the era where albums had a beginning, a middle and an end, and I still feel like it's my obligation to the art form that an album should have a certain flow to it, and that's still the formula I guide myself by. Does it feel complete? Does it have enough variety?”
A Cure for Loneliness achieves an expansive flow by combining studio recordings along with several live performances that capture the humor and spontaneity for which Wolf is renowned. "Performing in front of an audience is one of the things I enjoy most, and it's a different energy from the energy that comes out in the studio. So mixing studio and live tracks is like using different lighting for different scenes in a film."
"I see this album as a continuation of a body of work that I've been creating for a long, long time," Wolf concludes. “Each album is a challenge and every one of them has been a learning experience. I think that they've become more personal and revealing as I've continued. I still feel the way I felt when I started out decades ago, I'm just trying to prevail and continue to grow as an artist… and to keep rolling on with music as a cure for loneliness."
Peter Wolf performs Aug. 12 at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano and Aug. 13 with the Steve Miller Band at the Greek Theatre in LA.