Dan Michaelson & the Coastguards Saltwater (Memphis Industries) Absentee's frontman Dan Michaelson had been delving into the darker recesses of his mind but the songs that yielded were too black for that band's sound. A quick scout around the recording studio, however, found a few members of the Rumble Strips sitting around with not much to do - and so the Coastguards were formed. It's a good thing for us, too; stripped of Absentee's pop leanings, Michaelson's gravelly voice reveals its real passion. At times he reduces it to a near whisper - as on the opening Ease on In, where he laments: 'You were trouble from the start', to a lover he still refuses to give up on. There are shades of Leonard Cohen, but Michaelson has made no secret of the fact he admires that singer-songwriter's ability to explore the fight between a man's desires of the flesh and the needs of the spirit. And that is the thread that weaves throughout Saltwater. It's a man baring his soul for all to see. And the ringing horn section he leans on from time to time makes his sorrow that much sweeter.