Everlast is like Kid Rock for the indie set, a onetime rapper who's embraced roots music and proved to be an evocative performer. His gruff baritone has been his calling card going back to his days in House of Pain, during which his admonition to "Jump Around" spoke to a generation just discovering hip-hop. When HoP broke up in '96, Everlast restarted his solo career with his 1998 hit album, Whitey Ford Sings the Blues, exploring an eclectic range of approaches including rap, folk, soul and metal, highlighted by the hit "What's It Like." His roots-rap proved revelatory, launching a slew of less-talented imitators, from Uncle Kracker to Citizen Cope. But after 2000's successful follow-up, Eat at Whitey's, Everlast dropped off the map, releasing but one album (2004's under-publicized White Trash Beautiful) before 2008's Love, War and the Ghost of Whitey Ford. It dispenses with much of the rap overtones in favor of soulful folk-blues, a thread he continues on his new disc, Songs of the Ungrateful Living. One of his best-written albums, it focuses on those scraping along ("I Get By"), struggling to find their place in the world ("Gone for Good"), and drowning their sorrows ("Moneymaker"). He may never have another chance at the spotlight, but it won't be for lack of effort.
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