This is a fascinating record that combines two sides of Billy Childish: the bluesman and the poet. The first side contains eight tracks of stark blues with Childish on guitar and vocals, his wife Julie on bass and vocals, Wolf Howard on drums, and Jim Riley on harmonica; it’s a cross between the White Stripes at their most haunted and Tom Waits. The second side features 14 poems, read into a buzzing recorder, bracketed by two more songs, the second of which is a version of Son House’s “Death Letter Blues.” The poems have the gimlet-eyed fatalism and sudden, almost slapstick violence, juxtaposed against sorrow and tenderness, of Samuel Beckett. This record has an extremely old-timey feel, from its pinhole camera cover photo to the primitive recording quality, but its earnestness makes it timeless.

Phil Freeman