It's not like Mark Oliver Everett (hereafter known as E) hasn't dealt with these themes before. His whole recording career, most of it done under the Eels moniker, has been full of brilliantly crafted pop songs that tour death, terminal illness, regrets, lost dear ones, a veiled belief in better days and times overlaid by thick angst, and now and then, actual bursts of bouncing joy and humor. So there's nothing really new thematically on the 11th Eels album, The Cautionary Tales of Mark Oliver Everett, and even its sparse, stripped-down, and lightly orchestrated acoustic folk feel is something E has often visited. He turned 50 while writing these songs, so maybe that has something to do with the heavy and regretful tone that washes through these rather muted, weary, and almost whispered musings, few of which even rise to the tempo of a slow shuffle.
Mention the style “cool jazz” to a music fan and most likely their first thought will be of Chet Baker or Dave Brubeck. All well and good, but there was a cat who came before them who actually laid the groundwork for the style. That was Gerry Mulligan, the baritone saxophonist, arranger, and composer whose original piano-less quartet introduced Baker to the world, and who was also present at the early Miles Davis BIRTH OF THE COOL sessions.