Jamestown Revival — Young Man
Time can mess with your head in strange ways, especially when it comes to aging. Seemingly no time passes between the heady confidence of youth and the weariness of rapidly approaching middle age. The only way to mark the years is the wisdom you’ve gained along the way (which, of course, none of those damn younger folks wants to hear – the same way you didn’t want to listen when you were their age.). On their latest album, Young Man, Texas-based duo Jamestown Revival chose to write back to their (very recently) younger selves while hoping that listeners could learn a lesson or two from the band’s years of life lived on the road.
Jamestown Revival has made their reputation based on the gorgeous harmonies of founders Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance, bolstered by solid songwriting and a tight backing band. For Young Man, the band leveled up, working in a studio (Niles City Sound in Fort Worth) and with a producer (Texas musician Robert Ellis) for the first time. At the same time, they stripped down their sound, forgoing electric guitars and adding a good amount of fiddle. The result is a true meshing of their ever-present harmonies with gorgeous instrumental arrangements. The title track blends both the record’s overarching theme and the duo’s renewed musical approach, presenting a piece of 70s AM radio goodness that asks whether the fire of youth will endure – “I saw my face at the water’s edge/The man with the heavy heart.”
For a while, at least, that cocksure young man does live on. “Moving Man,” an understated, bass-driven tune, gives us a shark-like character who feels like he’ll die if he stops forward motion – “I might never win/But I won’t give in/So at least I won’t get beat.” “Northbound” is a literal and metaphorical journey from Texas to Colorado which encourages those in a hurry to gear down a bit – “Heading north, it takes a while/You might as well sit back and smile.” The song’s great steel solo is one of the best instrumental moments on the record – Young Man strives to make its musical highlights land as well as Clay’s and Chance’s harmonies.
“One Step Forward” shows us what happens when that young man encounters hard resistance – “I can’t complain/But I still do.” Along with a touch of self-pity, though, there’s more than a bit of awareness – “I’m chasing greener ‘til it’s turned me blue.” This growth continues through to the album’s penultimate track. “Old Man Looking Back” is a pensive tune that flips the script on the title cut, with the elder empathizing, to a degree, with his progeny – “You blow in like a hurricane/Truth be told, I was just the same” – while reminded the young man that humility doesn’t come easily, even with age – “You realize I’m just learning. too/Just a young man wearing an old man’s shoes. The lessons seem to have taken hold by the end of the album. “Working on Love,” featuring the duo’s prettiest harmonies on the record, realizes that wisdom, and hard work, pay off – “I’m working on love like I’m working on the land.” This particular young man seems just about ready to pass on what he’s learned to his next generation.
Song I Can’t Wait to Hear Live: “Way It Was” – The great acoustic guitar/steel/fiddle interplay ALMOST overshadow the vocal harmonies. Almost.
Young Man was produced by Robert Ellis and Joshua Block and mastered by Joe LaPorta. All songs were written by Clay and Chance, with Eliis co-writing “Old Man Looking Back.” Additional musicians on the album include Ellis (guitars), Nick Bearden (bass), Ed Benrock (drums), Ross Holmes (fiddle) and Will Vanhorn (pedal steel).
Go here to order Young Man, out January 14: https://jamestownprovision.co/collections/music
Check out tour dates here: https://jamestownrevival.com/#tour-dates
Enjoy our interview of the band here: Interview: Jamestown Revival is Revitalized