Trying To Get To You

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Emergence Of Jackie Greene

Since I first heard Jackie Greene’s Sweet Somewhere Bound roughly four years ago, I’ve been waiting for him to release an undeniable album. He’s one of those rare guys who has got all the gifts – great melodic sense, a keen eye, emotional depth, wisdom, charisma to spare and a simmering passion. The man has got soul.

After releasing a fine, if not quite thrilling debut on Blue Note in 2006 (after three albums on independent labels), Greene retreated from the “next big thing” conversation he was a subject of. Instead, he toured, continued writing and somewhat surprisingly, became a featured part of Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh’s ensemble, Phil Lesh and Friends. Despite not being a Dead fan, Greene has taken to performing for the Dead’s still considerable fan base. Perhaps playing some of those classic Garcia-Hunter compositions every night rubbed of on Greene, because his new album, Giving Up The Ghost, is the sound of an artist coming into his own and is easily one of the best albums released so far this year.

Giving Up The Ghost is modern in feel, but even though it breaks no stylistic ground, it simply sounds great and is full of excellent songs. Steve Berlin’s production keeps things simple and focused on the important stuff – the songs and the vocals. From the deceptively simple “Like A Ball And Chain” to the absolutely fantastic “Animal,” and the Stax-Volt of “Don’t Let The Devil Take Your Mind,” the songs reward upon repeated listening; Greene conjures great artists from the past – you can hear hints of the Band, Ray Charles, Elvis Costello, Paul Westerberg, Santana and half a dozen great soul singers - without ever just being an echo of them.

In a just world, Greene would already be a major star. But Greene isn’t the sort of artist who fits in easily anywhere. There’s no community for artists like him; no Warped Tour, no Pitchfork Festival, no Coachella. But the ironic part is that for anyone with ears, Jackie Greene should hit home like few artists around today. Buy this album.

Buy Giving Up The Ghost at the Amazon Mp3 store

1 comment:

heather said...

I agree, love this kid.

Nice post!