Jackie Bristow – Outsider
I’m not surprised another Americana artist originally from New Zealand steps up. The quality is consistent. Jackie Bristow (acoustic guitar) approaches her musical blend with no frills. I’m familiar with New Zealand artists such as the marvelous Donna Dean (who had her 2010 song “Destination Life,” covered by Rhonda Vincent & Grammy-nominated) & the young excellent Jenny Mitchell.
The diversified Ms. Bristow gets her inspiration from the American South. She applies this on her fifth LP the 12-cut Outsider (Drops March 4–Mesa/Bluemoon Recordings) with soulful country, folk & rock ‘n roll.
Producer Mark Punch at his Nashville studio added (Baritone/Nylon string guitar/electric & acoustic guitars/keys/Irish Bouzouki/percussion/loops/percussion/string arrangements/background vocals).
The single track “Surrender” with its “I’m Not In Love,” (by 10cc) backup type vocals was atmospherically produced by Viktor Krauss (Alison’s brother) & the multi-instrumentalist plays almost all the notes.
Residing presently in Nashville, Jackie shapes her music into a vibrant country-soul-Americana hybrid. A typically simple tune “Livin’ for Love,” is smartly arranged with bits of interesting instrumentation. Mark Collins’ banjo & Clayton Doley’s Hammond organ add color. “Without You,” is also basic but it’s the construction that radiates with attraction without sounding arbitrary. This is country-pop with no diluting agents. Quite likable.
Country music has been around for decades. It’s virtually up to the artist to modernize the antiquated mold & recreate a good country tune. Some rehash the same tired ingredients & some have no clue what true country tradition is. But, then there’s a Jackie Bristow who has the frame for it all. She paints with her own bold strokes.
Though there’s banjo it’s not a hokum addition. The musicians play in a manner that adds to the song & not embellishes it. Bristow has a mindful vocal tenacity to sound a little like country-pop 60s hit-maker Sue Thompson (“Paper Tiger,” “Norman”) with a touch of Sandy Posey (“I Take It Back,” “Single Girl”). Posey sang backup on many hits & performed with Elvis Presley live. She’s not lightweight. These are compliments because these two women were wonderful stylists in a field known as countrypolitan.
On “Outsider,” Bristow accentuates as Mark’s guitars with solid percussion lend gloss. Her vocals are strong & sassy. “Rockin’ Chair,” is delightful. They’re aurally captivating (such as on her original “California”) that has Joni Mitchell-relevance but this is not Joni’s song. No surprises or frills. Each song is performed with confidence & individuality. As they should.
Players: Jorgen Carlsson, Matt Fell & Steve Mackey (basses), John Juzek (upright bass), Greg Morrow, Ricky Fataar, Thomas Gallatin, Erik Eldenius & Fred Eltringham (drums), Dan Dugmore (pedal steel/banjo), Joe Davies (pedal steel), Mark Collins (banjo), Drew Taubenfeld (pedal steel), & Rick Price(electric/acoustic guitars). There’s violins/cellos/viola (“Without You”), & trumpets, fluegelhorn & saxes (“Tennessee You Call Me Home”). Backing vocals as well.
Color image from Jackie’s Bandcamp. The 46-minute CD available @ Bandcamp + https://jackiebristow.com/