"When I was a young man, my dreams were all about fame and hair; now I have neither," laments Peter Himmelman in the hourlong documentary called Rock God that is included with early pressings of this album. The tongue-in-cheek title of the flick sets the tone for a fascinating and ultimately melancholy look at a life spent fruitlessly -- at least financially so -- chasing the dream of making a living in the music industry. While watching the DVD isn't a necessary prerequisite for enjoying his tenth studio album of original music, it provides a poignant background infused with his unpredictable and edgy sense of humor, built around the frustration of a money-losing tour and releasing critically acclaimed projects that seldom sell or find an audience outside of his cult followers. Add this disc to that batch because it's another tough, smart, emotionally charged release that finds the tricky balance between rugged rockers, gutsy folk-rock, and touching ballads. "Just once I'd like to be on the winning team," he sings on the second track, summarizing the direction his life has taken. The songs shift moods and atmosphere but perhaps most unusual for Himmelman is the soulful, horn-enhanced "There Comes a Time," a shot of Memphis-styled R&B that could be a hit if radio had the guts to play this guy's music. The singer/songwriter's rugged voice brings bits of Dylan's rasp and Peter Case's grit to these 13 tunes. Even the acoustic strummers such as "There Comes a Time" are sung with a vengeance as Himmelman spits out the words like he's singing his final chorus. Lyrically, his material exudes a resigned, rather dark sensibility as reflected in titles such as "The Ship of Last Hope," "A Dog Can Drink Stagnant Water," and "If We Could Hold Each Other's Hunger." But the bluesy swamp-stomping punch as exemplified by the rollicking "Killer," the one flat-out rocker here, keeps the album in high gear despite the somewhat gloomy, even threatening mood that hovers over the disc like storm clouds. "Save a Little Honey" is a lovely, chiming track with a singalong chorus that only partially masks the desperation behind the melody. The nearly six-minute closing tune begins with stark piano accompaniment, layering additional instruments over touching, introspective lyrics until it builds to a gospel-styled crescendo that's equally uplifting and yearning. It's a perfect example of the yin/yang complexity that drives Himmelman's music and makes this set so satisfying on so many levels.