Home Read Albums Of The Week: John Doe | Fables In A Foreign Land

Albums Of The Week: John Doe | Fables In A Foreign Land

L.A. punk's X man unplugs, dims the light, introduces his folk trio & welcomes some friends on this dark concept piece about hard living on the open plains of the 1890s.

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Punk rock pioneer with X, songwriter, poet, actor, solo artist, published author and folk musician. With the concept album Fables In A Foreign Land, the debut release from The John Doe Folk Trio, his tales are now set in the pre-Industrial Era. And while many of the 13 songs were written over the last three years, the sound was born in loose weekly backyard jams on the patio of bassist Kevin Smith (Willie Nelson and Family).

“I guess Fables In A Foreign Land is my version of folk music,” Doe says. “It started by being sick of musicians that play too much and have to orchestrate or arrange songs. ‘What if it was just less?’ Everyone says less is more, but you have to figure out for yourself what that means. I didn’t do a deep dive into folk music and concern myself with what was ‘traditional,’ it was just an outgrowth of trying to strip the songs down to the basics.

Photo by Todd V. Wolfson.

“All of these songs take place in the 1890s. There’s a lot of sleeping on the ground, a lot of being hungry, a lot of isolation,” explains Doe of the concept album. “All of that fits into the kind of isolation and lack of modern stimuli that I think people started rediscovering during the pandemic lockdown: Realizing that as parts of your life start getting taken away, what’s important and what you live for becomes paramount.”

The album includes contributions from outsider country polymath Terry Allen on Never Coming Back, Los LobosLouie Perez on El Romance-O, and fellow X bandmate Exene Cervenka and Shirley Manson (Garbage) on Destroying Angels. Of the first single Never Coming Back, Doe explains, “This song starts the record for a reason: It embodies the spirit and events of what’s to come. It begins a journey that will be without comfort, where you are running from something dark that is approaching fast. You can’t go back because there’s nothing to go back to. Thanks to Terry Allen for the extra words.”