When I reviewed Ezra Furman’s ‘Day of the Dog’ in 2013, I described the singer as ”a vengeful ball of psyched up, stressed out rage”. In April 2022, Furman came out as transgender and now identifies as female. She hasn’t exactly mellowed but sounds more comfortable in her body now.
This album was produced by John Congleton in L.A. and is billed as the third instalment in a trilogy of albums, following on from the wayward road saga of ‘Transangelic Exodus’ (2018) and the furious punk rock of 2019's Twelve Nudes.
There remains an urgency to the rebel songs of defiance and aspiration that Furman sees as being more biblical in scope than overtly political. In Poor Girl A Long Way From Heaven she recounts a childhood encounter with God although it is clear from Temple Of Broken Dreams that she is not advocating anything resembling conventional church worship: “let’s congregate in a place that isn’t anywhere”.
The LP’s title derives from a lyric in the song Book Of Our Names inspired by the second book of the Hebrew Bible: "I want there to be a book of our names / None of them missing / None quite the same / None of us ashes / All of us flames."
Furman took further inspiration from Bob Dylan's '80s albums and '60s girl groups. Dressed In Black is a homage to the song of the same name by the Shangri-Las.
She is at home in the darkness on the edge of town although at times is desperation for insights as to which direction to take. Forever In Sunset combines a plea for rescue with the energy of a road movie while in Point Me To The Real she sings “I want someone new who can tell me the truth, and I don’t care who it is.”
In Ally Sheedy In The Breakfast Club she finds kinship with the prototype dysfunctional goth character from John Hughes’ coming of age movie as “the teenage girl I never got to be”
Furman sound tracked Netflix’s highly successful series ‘Sex Education’ and has a special fascination with fragile intimacies of young adults albeit with an overtly queer bias. She describes the record as "a queer album for the stage of life when you start to understand that you are not a lone wolf, but depend on finding your family, your people, how you work as part of a larger whole. I wanted to make songs for use by threatened communities, and particularly the ones I belong to: trans people and Jews."
Furman regards the record as a “weapon of war” as part of the battle to end the patriarchal capitalist empire. The boldness of such an enterprise means that she will never be short of material for the foreseeable future. Hurray for that!