The Listener, the umpteenth project he's undertaken in the 21st century (the full list is available at giantsand.com), is the kind of diary dialogue artists leading lives of cultured satisfaction get involved in not to get fat. Much of it was scrawled in Denmark, where Gelb spent the summer of 2002 as his wife prepared to give birth to their second child. As diarists tend to do, he veers toward self-indulgence; an unedited, Mose Allison nature to some of these pieces needs to be sent to its room without supper.
Yet even as he fills his lungs with glibness, Gelb never fully swallows his tongue, always remembering to intimate "good luck" to the album's namesake. There's soul all over: in gorgeous instrumentals that recall sultry Argentine nights ("Piano") and Morricone soundtracks ("Glisten"); in acoustic off-the-cuff small wonders (the shoulda-been love letter "Nashville Sound"); and in one classic apocalyptic love song ("Blood Orange," sung by a Dane named Marie Frank with husky, blue pipes). So while it's not clear if people still care enough to discover thoughtful songwriting voices rooted in the spirit of purple mountains' majesty, it's equally unclear whether Gelb cares what they think. Like a vintage R. Crumb mud flap, he'll just "keep on truckin.'"