Jeff Jensen review…August 14, 2013…

JEFF JENSEN

ROAD WORN AND RAGGD

SWINGSUIT RECORDS

BRUNETTE WOMAN–GOOD BYE PORTLAND–HEART ATTACK AND VINE–PEPPER–GEE BABY–LITTLE RED ROOSTER–CROSSEYED CAT–RAGGEDY ANN–RIVER RUNS DRY–THANKFUL

 

Jeff Jensen had already recorded two albums while living in Portland, Oregon, when, in 2011, he up and moved to Memphis.  As soon as he got to Tennessee, he teamed up with Beale Street harp master Brandon Santini.  Add in the help of composer and 2013 BMA winner for piano, Victor Wainwright, and Jeff’s latest release, “Road Worn And Ragged,” is a sure-fire winner, indeed!  It consists of ten cuts that combine Jeff’s love for blues, jazz, and roots music.

Jeff handles the guitars and vocals, and the “road worn and ragged band” features Victor on piano, Brandon on harp, Bill Ruffino on bass, James Cunningham on drums, and Chris Stephenson on B-3 and Wurlitzer.  Recorded at Ardent tudios, the fellows kick things off with the mojo-fied boogie of the “Brunette Woman” who seems fine until “the preacher said we were one,” leaving Jeff with “heartache for a full-time career!”  The Rev. Billy C. Wirtz co-wrote the ragtimey lope of Jeff’s “autobiography” of sorts, “Good Bye Portland,” while the sparse, understated arrangement of “Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You” has a strong, soulful vocal.  Brandon channels his inner James Cotton to blow that funky riff that defines Muddy’s “Crosseyed Cat,” and Jeff creates the album’s centerpiece with the sweet ballad, “River Runs Dry.”

We had three favorites, too.  Jeff’s version of “Little Red Rooster” is totally different from the Wolf’s original, presented herein as an amped-up, West-Coast-style, jump blues.  Fans of “The Andy Griffith Show” will recall Jim Lindsay, the mythical guitarist who was supposedly the hottest picker Mayberry ever produced.  Well, if ol’ Jim had a theme song, it would no doubt be Jeff’s rockabilly-tinged instrumental, “Pepper.”  And, we’ve always been fans of Tom Waits, and the fellows get their midnight creep on, headin’ down to “Heart Attack And Vine.”  Chris’ organ work is the perfect foil for the late-night walk thru the cemetery that this song brings to mind.

Jeff Jensen has certainly used his time in Tennessee to stimulate his creative juices, as the material in “Road Worn And Ragged” will attest to.  His A-list of band mates is another positive, and we look forward to hearing more from Jeff in the future!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

 

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