Monday, October 29, 2007

Reviews:: Hezekiah Jones Come to Our Pool Party

There are a couple of artists that I love so much that anything they put their name falls directly into my wheelhouse. That list is not very long, so when I found out Hezekiah Jones had finished up their new EP - Come to Our Pool Party - I pretty well assumed it was going to be amazing.

Raph Cutrufello (front man for this folk unit) has always been able to make a few simple notes sounds like a symphony and his delivery is as warm and comforting as those mittens that are connected by the long string. Thankfully, after listening to the record non-stop at work for three days I can say, this EP is no different.

If you fell in love with Hezekiah Says You’re A-Ok, the third track on this EP, Cupcakes for the Army, proves that Raph's still got it. He finger picks a simple melody on his acoustic and uses some long steel notes and marching band drums to beef up the sound, but essentially the sounds are just supporting players for Raph's subtle political sentiments. Unlike so many artists, he makes you think about his message, instead of pumping anti-war slogans and puns down your throat. The song is so enjoyable that you want to listen again and again, allowing the message to seep in slowly, almost undetected.

For fans of Hezekiah Jones, there are a few tracks you might be familiar with - Robin and Beth was one of the first tracks I heard from the band. Put On Your Light originally appeared on his debut record and Mississippi Sea and Knives for the Summertime were both on comps (Yerbird's folk comp and the Sparklehorse tribute record respectively) but having those songs included with new material is great news for any new listeners.

Raph grabs your attention and refuses to relinquish it. Nothing ever seems overly complex, in fact I'd say his arrangements are simplistic and the songs are painfully short, but the emotion and sincerity he is able to deliver so efficiently is shocking. He simply introduces a thought, expresses it clearly and moves on and many songwriters would should take note.

The back porch strum of Dark Hollows slowly adds stunning three-part harmonies and the band uses the right sound at the just the right time (the banjo, and steel guitar are perfect). This song does more in 2:29 than countless songs that meander aimlessly for 6-minutes. The songs emote a sincerity and it's no wonder that Raph has picked up friends and fans over the years.

This EP is full of musicians he's played shows with, most notably Chris Bathgate presence on Rain-Stars. Over a simple banjo the duo harmonize perfectly, and it is easily the most powerful track on the EP. Mississipi Sea is an interesting look at an apocalyptic future, one where the protagonist is able to find happiness with the solitude. After finishing the chilling world view of The Road, Cutrufello's vision is much more appealing.

Calling him a folk artist seems limiting, especially when you consider the diversity on this EP (Put on Your Light sounds more like a Decibully track than a Hezekiah song), but folk artists are the voice of the people. And Hezekiah Jones is a voice that can speak for a lot of us. I can't recommend this EP (or the first record) enough. Head over to Yerbird and stream the whole thing now.

NOTE: I've included the original version of Put Your Light On because I feel bad giving away the goods when Hezekiah and Yerbird in general are worthy of our financial support.

MP3:: Put Your Light On

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Posted at 4:27 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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