Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Reviews:: Jon Jackson Green Apples

I really wish I could take credit for discovering this artist. Instead, I must once again point to Songs Illinois. He posted on Jon Jackson last week and instantly I left a comment, right-clicked and saved as and fell in love with Jon Jackson. Remarkably, Jon saw that link and left a nice message to say thanks. And thanks to the wonder of the internet and blogs, I now have a copy of Green Apples and played the record 7 times yesterday alone.

There is so much to like about Jackson and his music. Here's a guy who recorded a CD knowing not many people would hear it and wasn't concerned that it cost almost as much as he makes. The goal was to get these songs down for him own peace of mind and oddly, considering he is racked with fears and doubts, that self confidence and drive is one of the things that shines through on the record.

Jackson is like most of us; caught up in insecurities and wondering why things don't work out as we want, but instead of focusing on the bad, his songs have glimpses of hope and honesty that are incredibly refreshing. A perfect example is the song about his grandfather, Papaw McClung. On a passing notice, you could hear traces of Ryan Adams (though he's more influenced by more roots, country artists). The defiant strum of the acoustic, the nice banjo and the three part harmonies all make you think about the prolific song writer's better work.

But as you dive deep into the song, it's not a drunken tale about another lost love, no, it's him looking at his mom's relationship with her dad and how sad it makes them both. His grandfather changed after the war, and it still haunts his mom, but over time he's started to see himself in his grandfather's image. It's an amazing song, and such a pure look into his heart. He's not placing blame, and understands his mom deserved better, but his Papaw did the best he could.

To be honest though, there isn't a bad song on this record. I've left it on repeat most of the last two days. From the opening confessions of the untitled opening track to the closing notes of Why?(14), Jackson seems unconcerned with how people view his thoughts. He's as willing to openly profess his unrequited love or obsession with a 14 year-old met in a chat room (recorded as a joke to make people laugh and sounds strangely like Leaving on a Jet Plane at times) as he is to expose us to his demons. How can you not be affected by a track he wrote for the waitress at the local waffle house (Excuse Me) that "didn't work out. But I went up there with my friend Matt and took my Mac and a microphone and he played the percussion in the waffle house on spoons, booster seats, ash-trays, and anything else we could find."

He's open about his depression. He embraces it in fact. Born to Be Blue is a twang filled admission about his sadness, but throughout it all he looks for the best in each situation. He hates sunny days, but sees the beauty of a grey sky. It's that dichotomy that makes these songs so great. As he says on Paradox, "I'm a walking contradiction and that's all right with me... until it's not."

It's amazing how he can make his songs stand out. Comin' Home is a chilling tale of a man who killed his wife and is trapped in prison, looking for an escape. While this might seem pretty common for the bar room rebel, it's the little things like the ache and strain in his voice when he reaches for the falsetto that make this seem so real. You feel like that emotion is still there and the memories are part of him.

In a perfect world instead of buying four new Ryan Adams records and being left disappointed, you would all just take the leap and listen. My words don't measure up to how much I love this record. I wish I didn't have to link up an MP3 for people to pay attention to this post, but I know the aggregators need their bait. I wish I could draw you in without giving away his music for free, but I can't. All I can say is if I've found one record that deserves your cash instead of your bandwidth, Green Apples is it.
MP3:: Papaw McClung

Video:: Atlantic City (live)

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Posted at 1:01 PM by ack :: 2 comments

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At 4:00 AM, Anonymous Lerjoy did sayeth:

Amen to all of your words. I also "discovered" Jon via SongsIllinois and I have never listened to an entire album so many times. It's simply remarkable. It's not just the songwriting, the music is phenomenal.

Cheers!

 

At 8:38 PM, Blogger ryan did sayeth:

jon, you do a friend proud. listening to this album has washed away my animosity towards you and your bloody fingers. i love you my friend.

 

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