Jesse Malin is one of the finer rock songwriters to have emerged into popular consciousness over the past decade. That he has chosen to release an album composed wholly of covers, many of them of the well-known variety, might come as a surprise, considering the fact that Malin's reputation was built on the strength and durability of his own writing. But "On Your Sleeve" is simply excellent, a record that delicately balances the enthusiasm of the true fan against the care and craftsmanship of the consummate professional.
Whether he's channeling Springsteen's "The River" through the prism of Bad Brains' hard-hitting "Leaving Babylon," finding the inner rockabilly in Paul Simon's timeless "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard," or interpreting the Stones' gorgeously decadent "Sway" as if he was Alan Vega leading Suicide through a twisted New York City gig during punk's heyday, Malin never misfires here. This kind of album just doesn't get any better than this.
Malin will doubtless perform a healthy portion of "On Your Sleeve" tracks when he arrives on Tuesday for an 8 p.m. gig in Mohawk Place, 47 E. Mohawk St. Chuck Ragan of Hot Water Music, Ben Nichols of Lucero and Tim Barry of Avail will open. Admission at the door will be $15. Doors open at 7 p.m.