Two new releases have recently found their way into my CD player, and each represents different strains of the terrific diversity — in both form and themes — jingling around and through blues and Americana-orientated music today. – by Randy Murphy
On the other hand, J. P. Soars new album, Southbound I-95, couldn’t be more stylistically different from Copeland’s effort. It’s a rollicking, diverse collection of tunes that seems like a United Nations for musical genres. Soars’ influences are wide and varied and he manages to invoke and echo them without tumbling into hackneyed cliché — an rare accomplishment nowadays. The opening salvo, the country-blues infused “Ain’t No Dania Beach” hints of Levon Helm’s heyday with The Band as Soars’ weaves his gravelly voice around and through his crisp slide-guitar handiwork, and things only pick up from here.
Another highlight is Soars’ vocals on “”When You Walk Out That Door,” a straight 12-bar blues tune with Soars indulging in a bit of the “woman-done-me-wrong-with-my-best-friend” motif, which, okay, is a bit of a cliché, but his vocal is so drenched in bitter, angry pathos that it’s still emotionally wrenching. You know it’s good when you’ve heard it all before but you don’t care — you’re still hooked.
Finally, there are two other tunes as unexpected as snow in July. The first is the surf-punk marinaded title track “Southbound I-95”, with no less than ex-Metallica bassist Jason Newsted supplying some high-octane, bottom-end fuel. It’s an absolute hoot of a song masquerading as a road trip and is alone worth the price of admission, a sack of popcorn, and a six-pack.
The other amazing song here is the big-band charged “Go With the Flow,” which shamelessly nicks Benny Goodman’s kitchen sink, right down to the dazzle of the open percussion rift of “Sing, Sing, Sing” to the expected but still surprising clarinet interlude, courtesy of Scott Ankrom, that takes over from Soars guitar. Screenwriter Aaron Sorkin once observed that “good writers borrow from other writers. Great writers steal from them outright.” There’s no doubt that what’s true with great writers is also true with great musicians. Soars’ clever fusing of musical genres is simply a joy to listen to.
Total Time 1:09:17
Ain’t No Dania Beach / Sure As Hell Ain’t Foolin’ Me / Southbound I-95 / Shining Though The Dark / The Grass Ain’t Always Greener / Arkansas Porch Party / Satisfy My Soul / Born In California / When You Walk Out That Door / Deep Down In Florida / Across The Desert / Dog Catcher / Troubled Waters / Go With The Flow / Sure As Hell Ain’t Foolin’ Me (Radio Edit)