It’s not immediately obvious if you’re busy studying the song titles, but the debut release by local singer-songwriter Clint Kaufmann has a back cover shot from a blackout drunk POV—if you’ve ever woken up under the toilet, as most readers of this publication undoubtedly have, you’ll recognize the angle, judgmental looming toilet and all, with a roll of TP pointedly placed near Clint’s guitar.
Self-effacing songs for alcoholics. Got it.
You can argue all day whether or not titles like “Weekday Drunk,” “Officer, I’m Sorry,” and “Baby, I Don’t Wanna Hurt You” should be jokes in the first place, but if so, you’re not Kaufmann’s target audience, which seems to have made peace with their own personal trainwrecks.
The shaggy-dog story is his forte; as his preferences suggest, Kaufman embraces the brutal honesty of Johnny Cash, the witty resignation of classic John Prine, and Daniel Johnston’s refreshing lack of affectation. (In this context, Susan Cowsill’s backing vocals on “Baby” and “Life Is Strange” are a real aesthetic coup, not just a case of good networking.)
The NOLA scene is choked with bands and singers reveling in their own decay, but Kaufman delivers his tales with a corkscrew warble and an unusual combination of defiance and warmth that suggests he’s not done in, merely letting go of a few things.
As he says in the half-Cajun, half-Appalachian “Washout”: “A hurricane washed me out of home / and I’m gonna wash back in.”