When Stan Ridgway asks, "Is there a home, a home for me" on his new album, "Neon Mirage," he's concerned with spiritual matters, not career moves. But the question may seem ironic given the curious path he has pursued since leaving Wall of Voodoo in the early '80s. Electronic music, film scores, big-band covers, country-inspired excursions -- no question, Ridgway is a restlessly creative spirit. He also has a distinctive, rough-hewn voice that is well suited for the soulful country-tinged ballads and western narratives of "Neon Mirage." Echoes of early influences are heard throughout, especially when Ridgway all but channels country music legend Marty Robbins on the surreal saga "This Town Called Fate" and when he faithfully covers Bob Dylan's somber homage "Lenny Bruce." The affection Ridgway holds for the past, however, doesn't inhibit familiar subversive tendencies, as the oddly tweaked arrangements of "Turn a Blind Eye" and "Desert of Dreams" illustrate. His lyrics can cut, too. When he bluntly sums up the trajectory of a doomed romance on "Wandering Star" -- "from the deep milky way to this world of decay" -- he's not looking for sympathy, just a little relief.
No doubt Ridgway will move on from here. But for now at least, he seems at home, exploring music and moods that clearly inspire him. -- Mike Joyce/Washington Post
Tickets for Stan Ridgway, this Sunday, September 12th at the Iron Horse in Northampton are available here.