There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
First flickering as an Italian torch ballad from ’91’s Life Sentence in the Cathouse, Tav Falco’s Latin obsession flares into full-blown romanticism on Shadow Dancer, a disc of baroque R&B for the brokenhearted. Now living in Europe, the ex-Memphis blues-punk saboteur has shed his biker duds for a tux and traded his wreckabilly sound for continental cabaret. Longtime fans needn’t fret: The resulting music conjures bordellos more than ballrooms. With none of the smirking irony of the retro lounge movement, Falco pays tribute to such crooners as Dean Martin (“Sway”) and Bobby Blue Bland (“Lead Me On”) while delivering his own bastardized tango on originals such as the title track—a sure dance-floor hit circa 1920. Led by former Hi/Stax veteran Perry Michael Allen, the new Panther Burns lineup provides Falco—who once took a Skilsaw to his Silvertone guitar—with his most assured backup band yet. But there’s no danger of slickness: The vibrations of a singing saw, Allen’s doodlings on a vintage emulator, and, of course, Tav’s signature skewed vocals lend Shadow Dancer a ragged ambience of dashed hopes and dirty ashtrays.