Jamestown Revival, "Young Man" (Thirty Tigers)
The list of really good Americana roadhouse bands that have emerged from the Texas music scene over the years is a long one. The list of those that distinguished themselves by doing something fresh and original, not so much.
Jamestown Revival belongs on both lists now, thanks in part to its latest release, "Young Man." With a production assist from Robert Ellis, a fellow Texan and a true country music original, the band has stripped its sound down to its essence and, in the process, made music that shines as brightly as anything the band has ever done.
The new album builds on the band's strengths, especially the brilliant harmonies of core members Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance. They've always been great harmony singers — these are guys, after all, that have recorded commendable covers of "California Dreamin'" and classic Crosby, Stills & Nash, twin peaks in the range of harmony-based rock 'n' roll.
Here Clay and Chance apply that same fearlessness to a stripped-down sound that somehow amplifies their talent in a range of styles. "Coyote," echoes the western stylings of Marty Robbins' classic, "Cool Water." The tradition-soaked melody of the title song delivers a perfect backdrop for wistful lyrics about aging and some of the best harmony-singing on the album.
Clay gives a song called "These Days" a formidable slide-guitar backbone, and the closer, "Working on Love," features the kind of gorgeous, angsty fiddle-playing that makes you want to weep.
The danger for Jamestown Revival lies in the prospect of fading into background music, the harmonies so sweet and gentle they can be safely ignored.
There's no chance of that happening here. This is an album of finely-crafted songs built on smart sonic choices, proving once again that music doesn't have to be loud to be great.