JD & The Straight Shot
100% All-American Americana.
It would be unfair of me to judge JD & The Straight Shot by the time I saw them play live last Summer; at the SummerTyne Festival; as I was running between the outside stage and an inside Hall, when I stumbled on them playing a showcase set in the cafe area.
All I saw was the final two minutes of one song and the first two of another…..but one of those songs is here; so they musty have made an impression.
That song was the second track here; the harmony drenched, Better Find a Church; which like most of the songs here straddles Country, Folk and even Blues with the greatest of ease.
As I know so little about the band I have deigned to read the Press Release for once; which tells us that this is their first ‘all acoustic’ album; which is surprising, as they sound completely at home in this format – guitars, fiddle, upright bass and voices from the top shelf in the shop.
The title track, Ballyhoo! Opens with Jim Dolan taking the role of a ringmaster in a Freak-Show on a brooding ‘talking Blues’ that is almost Southern Gothic at times; and one that appeals to my ears.
Another song that ‘stands out’ is also the only cover version here, Nature’s Way. Almost poetic; and featuring some semi-classical violin from Erin Slaver, the song was originally by Randy California and the message is sadly; still relevant today.
With that in mind; there is a certain 70’s vibe; to several songs here, not quite Laurel Canyon, but possibly a couple of towns further South down the Highway. Listen to Don’t Waste My Time and their homage to Johnny Cash, Here He Comes, to hear what I’m getting at – both feature Jim Dolan’s deep baritone and Erin Slaver’s intricate fiddle/violin playing and a strong story that will make your chest tighten.
For no apparent reason; other than their quality my two favourite songs here are the atmospheric Perdition and their reinterpretation of Under That Hood. The latter song re-examines the murder of Trayvon Martin in 2012; another topic that is still in the news today. I don’t know the original version; but the way the acoustic guitars are angrily picked as Erin makes her violin howl like a scalded cat; makes it a song that should be on every American High-School curriculum.
Between them, JD & The Straight Shot have written some really thought provoking and gripping songs; and this passionate and delicate treatment really makes them memorable, to the extreme.
Released January 15th 2016