Devil's Made a New Friend

Brooklyn singer-songwriter Jarrod Gorbel got his start moaning about heartache with dour indie-rock band the Honorary Title. Gorbel has shed his old group for the folky Devil's Made a New Friend, but his mood remains as dark as ever. "The less extraordinary life gets/The more my love starts losing effect," he sighs in the solemn opener, "Extraordinary." In the hands of lesser musicians, the consistent cynicism could become a drag, but Gorbel leavens his world-weary outlook with sparkling arrangements: a string section in "I'll Do Better," bleary church organ in "Devilish Ways." And while his voice — a somber, gravelly baritone — is perfectly suited to his sentiment, it's just as effective when Gorbel lightens up. "Wherever you will be/That's where I call home," he sings on the rocketing "Each Breath," proving even the grouchiest bard is a softy underneath.

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