American Myth

American Myth

by Jackie Greene
     
 
This California-bred singer-songwriter hasn't gotten nearly the amount of ink as many of his 20-something peers, but this, his second major-label effort, makes it clear that he won't be flying under the radar for much longer. As its title suggests, American Myth is an attempt to dig deep into the soil of indigenous musical tradition, a revisiting/updating of

Overview

This California-bred singer-songwriter hasn't gotten nearly the amount of ink as many of his 20-something peers, but this, his second major-label effort, makes it clear that he won't be flying under the radar for much longer. As its title suggests, American Myth is an attempt to dig deep into the soil of indigenous musical tradition, a revisiting/updating of what the Band did a decade before Greene was born. While he revisits the acoustic Dylanisms of his earlier outings on some of the disc's tracks -- most effectively on the whisper-soft "I'll Let You In" -- Greene broadens his palette to include all manner of new instrumentation. "So Hard to Find My Way," for instance, is buoyed by a spry combination of banjo and horns (the latter of which pop up on several of the disc's tracks, imparting a feel that's alternately Memphis-tinged and Big Easy-redolent). Darker hues push into the picture as well, notably the wailing guitar that roils through "Cold Black Devil/14 Miles," a feral blues that recalls what the late Chris Whitley was getting at on Din of Ecstasy. Some of the credit for the stellar sound has to go to the sidemen that Greene recruited for American Myth -- a list that includes guitarist Val McCallum as well as Elvis Costello collaborators Davey Faragher and Pete Thomas. But it's Greene's startlingly vivid songwriting that endows the disc with its staying power. Whether tossing off a minimal slip of a song (like the woozy, untitled intro piece) or taking off on a ten-minute psychic journey (his M.O. on the roller-coaster "Supersede"), Greene sounds like a man who keeps a half smile on his lips and a stiletto tucked -- just in case -- in his back pocket.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Thom Jurek
American Myth is singer/songwriter Jackie Greene's true debut for the Verve Forecast label. Sweet Somewhere Bound, issued in 2005, was actually recorded for the Dig Music label (where his previous albums appeared) in 2004 and licensed by Universal. American Myth is a much more complex affair than anything he's done previously. The list of players is impressive: from Davey Faragher and Peter Thomas to Greg Leisz and Steve Berlin (who did a fine job producing this set), to name a few. This is the collection that should finally dispel those pesky Bob Dylan comparisons. Greene has grown into his American roots style honestly -- by becoming a better musician. And while there are those fans who would claim that his lyrics may have suffered, his craft as a songwriter has improved immeasurably. "Hollywood" will be the novelty single because of its swaggeringly infectious blues hook, but "So Hard to Find My Way," with its shimmering B3, horns creating a loose, good-time groove underscored by a warm bass line, a strolling banjo, Greene's dobro, and his deft lyrical imagery, is a better tune. His changeup is fine, too, as evidenced by "Just as Well," which comes immediately after with its introspective acoustic guitar and the dobro and hand percussion intro. This is the kind of summery sidewalk tune that the guys in Sugar Ray would have killed to have written. The accordion fills and Greene's voice, which is so utterly cool and in the pocket, captures and captivates the listener. "Love Song 2 A.M." is beautifully evocative without being drenched in sentimentality. "I'm So Gone," is a snaky, hoodoo, traveling song that reflects in full-band form what Greene does in his solo live shows to stunning effect. The guitars by Greene and Val McCallum have teeth. The open-country feel of "When You're Walking Away" (especially with Leisz's lap steel) is offset by its heartbreaking lyrics. The R&B/soul drench in "Closer to You," struts in a barroom-sexy way, which is really interesting when it's bookended on one side by the hard-wired blues of "Cold Black Devil/14 Miles," and the pure acoustic, drifting love poetry of "I'll Let You In" on the other. What it adds up to is that Greene can write any damned thing he wants to and has the heart to pull it all off. Indeed he may be losing the street cred part of the "wandering troubadour" stereotype on American Myth, but as he's shedding that skin he's becoming something more mercurial: a deft, hard-to-pigeonhole American songwriter. Greene is doing this musical vocation thing the right way; he's growing and maturing as he goes, becoming more precise and developing a bigger channel for his muse to sing through.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/14/2006
Label:
Verve Forecast
UPC:
0602498790861
catalogNumber:
000609102
Rank:
73284

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Jackie Greene   Primary Artist,Organ,Dobro,Guitar,Harmonica,Percussion,Piano,Vocals
Steve Berlin   Percussion,Mellotron,Vibes
Davey Faragher   Bass,Vocals
David Kalish   Vocals,Slide Guitar
Nick Lane   Trombone
Greg Leisz   Mandolin,Pedal Steel Guitar,Lap Steel Guitar
Val McCallum   Banjo,Guitar,Vocals,Slide Guitar,Guitar (Baritone)
Lon Price   Tenor Saxophone
Pete Thomas   Percussion,Drums,Trash Cans
Francisco Torres   Trombone
Joel Jose Guzman   Organ,Accordion,Vocals
Cougar Estrada   Percussion
Rene Camacho   Double Bass
Brian Swartz   Trumpet
Terry Landry   Bass Clarinet,Alto Saxophone,Baritone Saxophone

Technical Credits

Steve Berlin   Producer
Hollis King   Art Direction
Brian Swartz   Arranger
Jackie Greene   Composer
Mark Johnson   Engineer

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