Signs & Signifiers
Rock and Roll is here to stay
A very good friend of mine, who is the singer in a Roots-Rock band and knows about these things, spent New Year’s Eve raving about JD McPherson and drunkenly insisting that JD was the ‘future’ of Rock and Roll.
Well, I’m not altogether sure that he’s the future but after listening to “Signs & Signifiers” non-stop for a week I think I can say; with my hand on my heart that he is definitely the ‘present’ of Rock and Roll.
If you like your Roots-Rock with a hefty slice of swagger and spit then JD’s your man. The young man from rural Oklahoma has all of the attributes to be a star in this field – he’s ruggedly handsome, wears his hair greased back with a trademark quiff and writes and sings some damn hot Rhythm & Blues dance songs. McPherson not only wrote the majority of songs on the album but he sings with a confidence well beyond his years and plays some amazingly sexy geetar and is more than ably supported by Jimmy Sutton on Bass and Alex Hall on Drums and piano.
“Country Boy” might even be autobiographical as JD insists that he’ll never forget his roots or change his habits even now he’s living in the Big City. As with all acts in this genre JD wears his influences on his sleeve and this song just bleeds early Elvis and that’s no bad thing.
Title track “Signs & Signifiers” opens with a Bo Diddley type rumbling guitar then JD takes us on a low down dirty trip through the tale of an unrequited love in his own unique style.
A Gentle Awakening slows things down with a meaty piano driven R&B tune that could be from the Nina Simone songbook and on “I Can’t Complain” he blends Eddie Cochran with Little Richard and Duane Eddy on a rocker ‘par excellence’.
We even get some sweet R&B Swing on the Joey Simone classic “Your Love (is all I’m missing)” with it’s toe-tapping beat and funky saxophone solos supporting a song Jackie Wilson would have been proud to sing.
The album ends with Scandalous which is a real Little Richard style rocker that is just crying out to be the encore number at any concerts.
With Imelda May in the ascendancy and James Hunter on the verge of (finally) releasing a new album could this be the dawn of a new Rock and Roll/R&B/Rockabilly/Roots-Rock revival?
With music as good as this on the turntable, I sure hope so.