Hamilton Leithauser’s voice is both gritty and finely tuned, whiskey splashed yet sobering, embittered but somehow resolute. He’s got a voice that’s made for belting out through a neighborhood dive bar’s jukebox at closing time when the last few patrons are filing out of their soused refuge. That’s the sort of place the former Walkmen singer’s music has tended to inhabit.
So it’s all too perfect that Mr. Leithauser would finally come around to covering a track such as “The Song with No Name” by Irish-punk royalty Shane MacGowan. The tune by MacGowan and his band the Popes (not the Pogues who he is far better known for fronting) is just ideal for playing in a public space as possibly besotted people sway to and fro. And Leithauser definitely gets that in his rendition. There’s an unmistakable ache in his voice as he sings though it’s never so throbbing that it threatens to tank the whole thing. He’s just strong enough and the song’s percussion has just enough forcefulness that there’s still something to rally around here. The “lady fair” may never be no more but one person’s absence isn’t going to drag everyone into the abyss.