As one half of The Dutchess And The Duke, Jesse Lortz played sexy, live-fast-die-young rock songs on his zesty, endlessly chugging acoustic guitar, sounding like the Stones’ “Not Fade Away” with a touch of “As Tears Go By.” The Jagger-esque sneer Lortz brought to D&D’s material is all but absent from The World Is Just A Shape To Fill The Night, his solo album under the name Case Studies. He now sings in a low, flat croon evoking a complete emotional shutdown brought on by intense romantic trauma—or perhaps a few too many nights studying Songs Of Leonard Cohen. Whatever it is, the lust has been drained from Lortz’s heart and filled with a heaping helping of lovelorn moodiness.
The World isn’t as much fun as The Dutchess And The Duke—though the cutting “Lies” calls back to that duo’s simple alchemy nicely—but Lortz obviously has a thing or two about women to get off his chest, and he does it with quiet but intense desperation. The menacing “Secrets” is a push off a cliff disguised as a reassuring pat on in the back, with Lortz talking a lover out of suicide while conceding the meaninglessness of existence. Elsewhere, Lortz is content to avoid the big questions for just a moment or two of grace. “I’d like to still be in your bed, but I would settle for your life instead,” he sings on the comely “Silver Hand.” Lortz might be through with love on The World Is Just A Shape To Fill The Night, but love isn’t through with him.