Mark Lind - Death or Jail (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Mark Lind

Death or Jail (2006)

Sailor's Grave

Death or Jail might be a solo album, but Mark Lind hardly takes a traditional approach with a single acoustic guitar and mic. While an acoustic guitar takes a presence here and there, Lind's solo effort focuses more on changing the overall tone and lyrical approach than seen in his full-time band, the Ducky Boys.

I've always found that the best singer-songwriters are those who write introspective lyrics, yet at the same time allow the listener to relate to what's being said. With the Ducky Boys, Lind tends to write with less emphasis on personal politics than he does on Death or Jail. These lyrics are some of Lind's finest. He's at his best when singing about better days, which is established from the get-go on the opening track, "Times Forgotten," when he sings, "Do you remember those days when time was all that we had? Oh my God, what I'd do for some of that now. I'd sit on the rooftop and drink back some booze. You times forgotten, I love you."

As said before, Death or Jail isn't an acoustic album, however the focus (sensibly) is on Lind. This normally works well, but there are some lost moments, notably in the chorus for "Better Days" which would have worked some much better had the backup vocals been mixed higher to create an explosive sing-along moment. But Death or Jail is much more stripped down than the Ducky Boys' recent album, The War Back Home. Are the songs on Death or Jail simply acoustic versions of Ducky Boys songs? Well, how far a departure do you want -- or expect? Notwithstanding the lyrics, sure, they could have been spruced up and thrown onto a Ducky Boys release, but they largely stand strong enough on their own to warrant their own release.

Lind has no problems with creating output. The Ducky Boys have been around for ten years and recently released their latest album on the same day as Death or Jail. While that's a notable accomplishment, one is left to wonder on more than a few occasions if both albums were written within the same period of time, with some quality control lost. There are a handful of songs that really could have been left off or substituted with no harm done. But when Lind is good, he's good. There's nothing fancy on Death or Jail, but there are some great songs.