Jarrod Dickenson – Big Talk
The first thing that struck me was 10-country-oriented tunes recorded in Nashville by a Texan who thought a picture of a New York City (I assume) yellow cab in winter with icy snow dripping from its front grille would sell this music. I like that contrast, that creative mentality.
The music delivers sparks throughout. The guitars are set in a Del Lords tradition (“Dream Come True”) with inspired melodic raunch. Jarrod wisely threads the rest with Tom Petty hocus pocus & good as he is with his band’s inventive performances, he doesn’t take himself too seriously. He cultivates a somewhat loose yet appealing well-disciplined rock structure for each tune with a sterling backdrop (“Born To Wander”).
This self-produced Big Talk (Drops Feb 3–Hooked Records) is handsomely packaged with a lyric insert. There’s a tint of bitterness in Jarrod (vocals/electric & acoustic guitars/12-string guitar/Octave guitar solo/vibraslap/handclaps) & that’s to be expected. Major label involvement does that to an artist. But he’s not alone, even the late, great John Prine dove off that ship, & so did the late Johnny Cash.
The recording is pristine & had they existed in the early 70s they would’ve found a home at Tumbleweed Records in Colorado. Great similar artists like Arthur Gee thrived there. A superb Americana artist. Great inventive songs similar to “Home Again,” which has that Gee stick-in-your-mind melodic style as found on Gee’s (“Love Song #451 & #450” & “Confessions”).
“With Any Luck,” has a Rolling Stones tug of the ear in how the guitars come & go. It doesn’t sound like a demo or outtake since this is recorded ballsy. Just a nice Stones feel – circa “Sticky Fingers” — especially with the soulful backup singers & shift in music. Nicely done. “Long Hard Look,” has the formal breadth of the late J.J. Cale — swampy guitar & backup vocals. “Don’t Deprive Me,” comes off again with a Guadalcanal Diary (“Always Saturday”) type vocal. Effective.
But the most compelling voice is saved for last on “Goodnight.” A peppermint cool ballad expressively sung with sincerity & absolutely lovely. Let me say it again…it’s lovely. Emotionally rich. I’d suggest bringing a box of tissues. A masterpiece of a ballad. This is an accessible CD — highly recommended.
Musicians – Jano Rix (drums/percussion/congas/Hammond organ/Rhodes/piano/vocals), Ted Pecchio (bass), Brook Sutton (upright bass), JP Ruggieri (electric guitar/slide guitar/Leslie guitar), Claire Dickenson (vocals/hand claps), Oliver Wood, David Ford & Joe Haddow (vocals), Leif Shires (trumpet/horn arrangement), Steve Patrick (trumpet), Josh Scalf (trombone), Jovan Quallo (tenor sax), Tyler Summers (baritone sax), David Angell & Connie Ellison (violin), Monisa Angell (viola), Sari Reist (cello) & Ethan Johns (string arrangement).
Highlights – “Buckle Under Pressure,” “Born To Wander,” “Home Again,” nice horns on “Prefer To Lose,” a field-holler type tune “Bamboozled,” “With Any Luck,” “If You’re Looking,” “Long Hard Look,” “Don’t Deprive Me” & “Goodnight.”
Photo courtesy of Patrick Glennon. CD available @ https://jarroddickenson.com/home