Gordon Gano is easily best known as the lead singer of the Violent Femmes, but he also steps behind the scenes to write songs for others. The album Hitting the Ground features Gano as songwriter, occasionally taking the microphone to sing.

Hitting the Ground features performers PJ Harvey, Mary Lou Lord, Lou Reed, John Cale, Linda Perry, Frank Black, They Might Be Giants, and Martha Wainwright, among others, performing Gano's songs. While some songs have the definite feel of the Violent Femmes, there are also tender ballads like "So It Goes" and the piano-powered "Don't Pretend." And Gano's voice is as unmistakable as ever when he sings.

Sometimes Gano's lyrics are a little too clever, but Hitting the Ground is a pretty good album. There are kick-ass rock songs, with the variety of singers creating a multi-faceted sound here.

Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch

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