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Kevin Salem

Kevin Salem is an accomplished musician and an in-demand producer, but after recording his second record, Glimmer, in 1996, he had a bit of an identity crisis. Much of it had to do with his struggle to find his place in the wasteland that is mainstream music. At its nadir, he found himself wearing designer suits, affecting a German accent, and spending much of his time behind the velvet ropes of trendy New York nightclubs. After that, by his own account, Salem gave up trying to figure out how to fit in musically, and even gave up wearing clothes -- at least while working in the home studio he built for himself -- and just tried to do what he felt.

What that turned out to be was a wry, intelligent album called Ecstatic, which features a slickly produced mix of bluesy heartland rock and dark, complex, hook-heavy pop music. Salem enlisted a bevy of big time musicians to help him with the disc, including Donovan Leitch (you may recall him as just Donovan), Vicki Peterson (The Bangles, Continental Drifters), Barry Reynolds (Marianne Faithfull), Lydia Kavanaugh (Golden Palominos). But clearly, these darkly catchy songs are the product of one singer-songwriter's lengthy and torturous process of creation.

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