(4 / 5)
Had the pleasure of this guy’s company in Nashville a couple of times. Nice guy, great voice, skilful guitarist and a superb song writer.
Many know him as the guy who wrote and sang the infectious and menacing theme tune to the smash hit US TV drama series “True Blood”. You know; that song with the lyric, “I did a bad, bad thing…..” He also co-wrote the Josh Turner US number one country hit, “Your Man”.
Jace has a brand new solo album, “Dust & Dirt”, and a very fine piece of work it is indeed. You could file it under Americana, country or roots genres. Label it however you want to and how you hear it. Me; I’ll file it under “too cool for school”. What cool sounds like.
This Indiana-born artist who moved to Texas when he was six, has perhaps not had the mainstream recognition he deserves, in my opinion. Consistent quality material and performances across his records, and he never chases trends or opts for the lowest common denominator to follow the dollars. Jace Everett is his own man and his musical integrity is in tact. Always.
I think of other stand-alone artists such as Steve Earle, Todd Snider and Lucinda Williams, in relation to treading their own creative path. One could never second guess what those cats are gonna do next, and you say that about Jace too. But it always sounds like them, no matter what they do from project to project.
This is his seventh studio album, and falls back on his country roots. 10 classy cuts which deliver a very even listen. The booklet and CD packaging does not offer me any credits for the players on the record. Apart from Jace on lead vocals and guitar, and on “Lowlands”, a guest vocal from Leigh Nash. Dan Cohen produced the album and co-wrote four of the songs with Jace.
The opener “Woke In This The Town”, is kind of trademark Jace Everett territory you know, that David Lynch soundtrack sound; lower register twang, dark and moody fare; setting the tone and the standard. It’s a damn good start..
“Green Or Blue” is a tad Petty-esque, before “Rescue Me”, which features swooning pedal steel licks and some really gorgeous lead guitar work from Jace. That’s both the lead stuff and his subtle brush strokes to add colour. A simply stunning guitar solo, channelling an Allman. He delivers a catchy, commercial, radio-ready cut with “Under The Sun”, where Tango meets doo wop. A real feel-good track.
“Love’s Not What We Do”, is a bit of a pop at mankind, co-written with Dan Cohen; inspired by the US Presidental debates and recognising there is no world in which we all get along. No world where we all vote the same or praise the same God. But we all have the same fears, and this is the only world we got. But we are all “a bunch of fuckers”. None taken!
The final track, “The Last Gunfighter Battle”, pays homage to Jace’s mentor, Guy Clark. The trio of Jace, Dan Cohen and Kasey Todd offer a subdued live performance of the Clark-penned classic, recorded on the 17th May 2016, on the afternoon of the Texas legend’s passing.
The 45-year-old artist is sounding in mighty form on vocals and guitar, and his songwriting chops get better with age! Cue the “like a fine wine” cliché! He shows a vulneriblity in his song writing and his vocal delivery on some of these cuts, another side to him that we do not always get to hear. It lends light and shade to the more rambunctious and moody fodder we know him for.
He’s here right now in the UK on tour, and I am sincerely sorry I could not make any of the eight dates to catch up with him. But I’ll console myself with spinning this superb album loudly ever day while he is over here – his second on UK label Hump Head, after the 2011 release, “Mr Good Times”. I can neck a few cold ones at the same time in his honour. Very neat job…
By Simon Redley
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’