Monday, February 16, 2009

Quick hitters:: Jay Clark and the Jones Blue Cholera

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It’s no secret that roots music has picked up steam in the last few years. Repetitive synths have given way to long bended steel notes and spot on harmonies, but as is often the case when a genre becomes the flavor of the month, the sincerity and purity is usually lost. Too many people trying to claim the talent of Van Zandt, The Band or Willie as their musical Rosetta Stone and now we are being force fed the autumn browns and oranges through a musical fire hose.

Jay Clark and the Jones on the other hand, probably grew up listening to Petty, Lightfoot and CCR and just never stopped. It’s been 5 years since they last hit the studio and they are probably as shocked as anyone to find that pop laced roots records they love are now more popular than rip rock and pop punk. That dedication and love of roots music is evident to anyone who listens to Blue Cholera. The songs display a maturity that gives the band credibility and shows the band understands and appreciates the elements needed to pay tribute to the acts that came before them – like the subtle nod to Sloop John B on Anastasia. They don’t try to force sepia toned organs or twang-y lap steel in where it doesn’t belong and never try to crowd the honest emotions Clark Reid presents.

No, instead of countless harmonies and muddled textures the band (with help from Andy Magoffin) pulls back the layers nicely – like when the ivories float off into the distance on River Street Bridge - and let Blue Cholera float by on an airy breeze, even when the hurt hits the hardest. It’s become cliché to talk about back porch jam sessions and friends jamming to the sounds they love, but on rollicking numbers like Distance Love that’s exactly the vibe they give off. That free form style lets them playfully add horns on Last To Know or toss in a little reggae-tinged upstrum on Company without losing the integrity of their sound.

There are some hiccups – the beginning of Distance Love and parts of Anastasia drag a bit – but at the end of the day that almost works out better. Jay Clark and the Jones play songs that sound like your past and if they were too perfect, they’d seem out of place. But when they all come together – like when the harmonies, hand claps and fiddle lift the terrific closer, Sevens - you wouldn’t trade the feeling for anything in the world.

Posted at 2:01 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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