MENSILE DI INFORMAZIONE ROCK (N.366 – APRILE 2014) Download PDF
Translation > > > The folklore, that is, in english, “the knowledge of the people” is one of the most important forms of memory: refers to the popular tradition, the rites. The customs and legends of those before us, consciously or not, has
bequeathed to future generations a legacy, a teaching, a thought. Folklore, after the critically acclaimed “Plow Through The Mystic” (2011), is also the title of the new album by Jeff Black, not surprisingly, the most rigorous album of the eleven published to date by the singer-songwriter from Kansas City, Missouri. Nudes, intense and beautiful as were also the two volumes of “B-Sides And Confessions” (especially the first, half-masterpiece), respectively from 2003 and 2013, but if they looked more like those collections of rock ballads for the occasion interpreted in suffered acoustic key, “Folklore” sounds rather like a hard uncompromising folk, scanty as it is made by weaving dozens of references to the size of the most archaic kind, sober because they can tell their own stories using only some guitar and harmonica. Join veteran newgrass Dave Sinko (someone will remember his work on behalf of Sam Bush), the album represents a journey in purity in the remotest corners and off the beaten path of the sound of roots, from country-blues of “Lemonade” the typical folk Texan (in a Guy Clark style) of the evocative “63 Mercury Meteor”, from country-rock to twelve strings of the beautiful “Break The Chain” to the painful hillbilly banjo only “Cages of My Heart” in a continual round of departures and returns from the images of the past to their contemporary tradition in a new voice, and new words. Inspired by the cover photo dated 1930 in which two brothers (his father and his uncle Lyle Black) are captured along with their dog in a bath of winter sun, the artist has tried to write some thirty pieces, thirteen of which are then selected for the lineup of “Folklore” that could vibrate in the same urgency, immediacy and frugality contained in the family stories about the Great Depression, when the choice of making music stemmed from hunger and the need for alleviate the economic hardships of family and friends through the notes of a born-dance.
The intent is clear, and perfectly successful in the episodes rougher and rootsy as a “Sing Together”, which would not be surprising to discover that belonged to some obscure storytellers of the Appalachian Mountains. Yet many chapters of “Folklore” transcend simple, commendable commemoration of days gone by in turn now classic ballads in the Black style, in the dark and fast arpeggios of “Rider Coming”, in the uncontaminated folkie sweetness of “No Quarter”, the haunting desolation of “Decoration Day”; in a set of songs, in short, where the most introverted Van Morrison and the most thoughtful Jackson Browne come together to exchange pieces of life, achievements, dreams, roads, daily rushes and small defeats.
In the gait dylaniano of the acute “Tom Domino” check even a mention of the Rolling Stones “You Can not Always Get What You Want”, but the charm of the song, the subtle elegance of fingerpicking and the effectiveness of the narrative, only belong to Jeff Black. The world in black and white, poor but proud,
tired but full of music and ideals, celebrated in “Folklore” instead belongs to us all, and for this reason it would be a shame to miss the new appointment with one of its most authentic and evocative singers. (Gianfranco Callieri-Buscadero)