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Glenn Jones – My Garden State

Thrill Jockey

Glenn Jones - My Garden StateThe Sprummer has burst out in full bloom here in Blighty. That’s no typo. Spring forgot to happen this year, so we’re enjoying blossom trees and warmer evenings. Saying that, we had a hailstorm yesterday. Never the less we’re enjoying abundant daffodils growing in our parks and meadows. My Garden State is the perfect music to listen to whilst riding a bike and looking around at all this sprouting nature and being reminded that once again “Oh yer, summer actually exists!”

The album chimes in with insects buzzing and well, chimes. Mr Jones must have waited for just the right time in the evening to capture the grass bugs chorus in full hazy summer night flow. As well as singing summer bugs, thunder and rain can be heard on the album that have an audio quality that expert sound recordist Chris Watson would have been proud to capture. “Across the Tappan Zee” follows with gentle banjo picking accompanied by more banjo from Laura Baird (sister of Meg of Espers) who also recorded the album. Its got a nostalgic goodbye quality, which is incongruous considering it’s the first tune on the album. Be warned, some of the melodies heard herein are infected with earworms that’ll crawl into your ears and bury into your brain until finally expelling themselves as ‘going about your day’ whistles from out of your mouth. “Going Back to Montgomery” has to be the most guilty culprit. I advise to get infected and go about your day.

Things get a little darker with “Blues for Tom Carter,” which must refer to Mr Carter’s hospitalisation in Berlin during a tour with Charalambides in 2012. The track has a dragging slow pace and conjures up bleak images of waiting around in some foreign hospital ward until doctors deem you fit enough to fly home, only to find a horrendous hospital bill waiting for you when you get back (and a website has been set up to help relieve some of the medical bills). More recently he’s played some low key solo shows in Italy and Portugal and is gradually improving, so let’s hope these blues were only temporary. “The Vernal Pool” continues the sober theme but has a lot more space to stretch out in, until the last part where we get up to a spirited gallop and finally burn out.

“Alcouer Gardens” starts with gentle roaring thunder, which on paper (computer screen?) might sound foreboding, but the sweet accompanying guitar gives us the impression that the dark times are rolling away in the distance and sunnier times are ahead. “My Garden State” is a little banjo ditty that flutters in and out like a garden butterfly. The title of “Like a Sick Eagle looking at the Sky” sounds like Glenn’s impression of guitarist Robbie Basho‘s last days on earth. It doesn’t get as deep as Basho, but hey, what other guitarist truly has? A Kickstarter campaign raising funds for a documentary about Robbie Basho has been started and if the trailer is any thing to go by, which features Glenn Jones, it truly deserves your support.

“Bergen Country Farewell” again has a goodbye quality to it, but this time there is not so much of a sad nostalgic quality like “Across the Tappan Zee,” but rather we’re trotting off down the Farewell road that we’re happy to go down. Finally ,”Chimes II” chimes us away from the cold garden porch.

Having seen Glenn perform in Paris in February 2011 I can tell you the graceful tone and sparkling flow heard on his albums translates loud and clear in the live setting. I’ve never seen another player with such a precise glossy sheen to their sound, like Jim O’Rouke’s sound on The Visitor but without the numerous over-dubs and studio effects.

He’ll be coming over to the UK and Europe in November, go check him out.

-Harry Wheeler-

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