monoblogue music: “Miracle” by Andy Evans

If you are looking for something bluesy with soul, you won’t be disappointed with this effort by Texas-based Andy Evans. “Miracle” isn’t a long album as it’s barely over 30 minutes long, but the nine tracks feature a pleasing variance in the guitar-based sound Evans puts out.

You may find Intro a little strange, but it’s only the prelude to the mid-tempo, sort of jazzy title track where we are introduced to the guitar effects Evans employs in a full-length song. It gets a little more mainstream on 45, but that song is saved by the lyrics and storytelling Evans employs.

Lesson Learned gets off to an acoustic start, but it’s a nice enough ballad with an abrupt end that caught me off guard. Also catching me unawares was the horn-infused Shape Of Love, which also features a lot of tasty guitar.

For me, one of the two best tracks was the sixth selection, called Judas. It’s foreboding open and distortion lead up to some serious ripping through the bridges. It leads into a pair of slower and more romantic songs, with I Wish She Was Mine opening with Evans singing acapella for the first thirty seconds before it transforms to a slow rocker. Elemental is also slow, but has a well-written chorus.

The final song is the other of my favorite pair, as Make It takes distortion, some scorching organ, and a good slow fade to create a finale worth the wait.

Now for the bad news: the album doesn’t come out until January. (This is why there’s no cover art – no .jpg of it exists.) It’s unusual to get one so far back in the process, as it’s obvious the tracks are ready. (Of course, this leads me to wonder if the project will be beefed up by a couple songs upon its release.) So this is a case where you’ll have to trust me that if you crave something a little bit different, this may be worth checking out after the calendar turns.

monoblogue music: “Burnt Blue” by J Burn

Today I review a four-song EP by the San Francisco-based guitarist J Blue. When this EP came out in late June, it was billed as the lead-in to a full-length effort by the band, which boasts two members of Bob Weir’s band RatDog. The EP was even recorded at TRI Studios, which Weir owns.

Of course knowing that bit of backstory helps to explain a little bit about this record, but what I can’t lay my finger on is why I didn’t derive as much enjoyment out of it as I have some others. Freight Train is a nice little story song that sets the tone, although we have heard the theme of wandering around like an old-time hobo many times over the years. The piano-driven Old Time Heroes is a good addition, too.

But something about the second song, Memory Lane, and the finale Our Song Shared just didn’t sound right.

One theory I came up with was something I think of as density. The average rock song isn’t just continuous instrumentation but has brief, sometimes noticeable interludes. Take a classic song like (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction where the opening guitar lick has that quick little pause in it. That makes it a little more hummable and accessible.

With J Blue the songs are unusually dense, with little bursts of violin or piano within the melody. It’s unusual to hear songs like that outside the classical realm, and even those have rests to go with the layering of instruments.

On the flip side, I got the impression he was trying too hard instead of letting the music and lyrics flow. The vibe I got from the set was similar to that of bluegrass music, which is generally simple in arrangement because it’s often performed acoustically. Granted, I don’t write songs for a living so I don’t have a professional opinion as much as I do a layman’s with no dog in the fight, just an advisory role. (This is why I invite people to listen for themselves when I can. You may love something I’m not enamored with or hate my new favorite.)

I think this is a case where the songwriting process would have been fascinating. I’m imagining these tunes done as a three-piece combo of just guitar, drums, and bass and thinking that would be an improvement. Given this is a stage before a longer full-length release, maybe they have time to do some revision and keep things simpler.

monoblogue music: “City Blog” by Gideon King & City Blog

Sometimes there is a natural marriage between modern jazz and rock music. While the two genres don’t often meet and create commercial success, it doesn’t mean those with an appreciation of both styles don’t stop trying. Such is the case with guitarist Gideon King and the New York-based cast of studio players he’s selected known collectively as City Blog. (An interesting name, to be sure.)

There are a couple things you should know about this collection of ten songs. It borrows heavily from the improvisation jazz is known for, with ten songs running a total of almost fifty minutes. The longest, Down, runs over seven minutes and looks askance at the modern music scene; meanwhile, the shortest is the final track Broken Noise. That’s not so much a song as a mashup of different takes of three of the preceding songs.

In the rock world they would classify this as a jam band, and City Blog fulfills those elements with the additional instrumentation traditional to modern jazz.

Additionally, there is a cynicism in much of the lyrical content, a world-weariness reflected best in the lyrics of songs like the title track, Friendship Cliche, and Dirty Bastard. “City Blog” stands out, however, as a group with multiple singers: Elliott Skinner of the band Third Story handles City Blog and Dirty Bastard, Marc Broussard provides the vocals for Down and New York Is, Saul Kurtz does See In Double, and Grace Weber does What Say You and Glide. Carolyn Leonhart of Steely Dan fame is credited with background and lead vocals on several tracks as well. To me, Weber provided the vocal highlights in making her two songs stand out a little from the rest.

Overall, for the number of players involved, King does an excellent job of putting together a relatively seamless whole. There’s more than enough variety in the tracks to hold the aficionado’s interest.

“City Blog” certainly has the sophistication to appeal to those who have attained a certain station in life and live in the Thirties or Forties, but it’s good for the rest of us, too. If broadening your musical horizons is a goal, this is a good choice – and if you’re reading this on this last Saturday in September, you can get in on the ground floor because “City Blog” drops today. Here’s the self-titled lead single so you can judge for yourself.

monoblogue music: “You Said” by Tumbler

Oftentimes when I do a review, I listen to the music first then read up on the backstory to fill in details. In the case of this fresh release by British-based Tumbler, the story behind it explains in large part why the album is a gem, a bit of a throwback in an era with Autotune and bands that stress rhythm over harmony and acquiring bling over musicianship.

Instead, Tumbler’s album is a woven tapestry of simple songs that show a number of musical influences. For the most part it’s performed by two guitarists: Richard Grace and his eighteen-year old son Harry – one of Grace’s half-dozen – who the elder Grace called “music-wise, the most ambitious of them all.” They have a few guest musicians along the way for spots of percussion and piano, but the father and son perform most of the musical work.

Knowing now that the songs were primarily written by a guy who’s achieved a certain age and station in his life explains a lot. As Richard Grace put it:

The songs on this album come from a cave full of stuff written over the years and played together in crowded kitchen concerts where guitars are everywhere and everyone knows the chords.

That note gave me the “ah ha!” moment to explain the subtle David Bowie sound in the opening song Moments (she reappears) and the Beatles influence I detected in Don’t think twice (she says), the bouncy pop tune that follows it up.

Given the circumstances of the writer, it’s easy to see how many of the ballads have a poignant message. You almost have to be a parent to truly get Sleepy bananas are cool or Flowers and miracles, which seem autobiographical in nature.

Romance is also a recurring theme in “You Said” whether it be the opposites attract message of London girl, the duet Call me sentimental, the opening track Moments, or the closing ballad Rowan tree. Even sweeter is the lengthy ode Dennis and Jean, which celebrates a long sixty years of marriage in a old-fashioned relationship.

Yet the elder Grace has a sense of humor, too. For some reason the rocker Businessman blues makes me think of Donald Trump (but doesn’t everything make you think of him these days?) And Dead man’s bones made me laugh out loud. Who knew an autopsy could be funny?

As I said above, the elder Grace wrote ten of the twelve songs on “You Said.” Son Harry wrote tracks seven and eight, Bueller and Break or fall. These two venture a little more into a pop influence, but Bueller still has the touch of romance that comes along with the happiness of happenstance falling just right. Break or fall takes a string buildup and morphs into a hook-filled song that seems to be the lead single.

Realizing that these songs were written over a number of years as just something Richard Grace enjoyed doing, perhaps he is leaving a pair of legacies: one is the obvious message behind the songs, but the other is getting his “most ambitious” son a head start in the music business.

As a whole, this was one of the best I’ve heard this year because it was songs already honed to a sharp edge combined with someone who detailed them just right. Most likely this will land somewhere in my annual top five, but if you don’t want to just take my word for it you can listen for yourself.

Maybe there’s some more in that “cave of stuff” for a round two.

monoblogue music: “Learning You By Heart” by Stephen Inglis

Have you ever heard of Hawaiian Slack Key guitar? Me neither, but Stephen Inglis has been playing it for years and his talents are featured on his latest collection, which came out in June.

So I was interested in not just listening to the album but learning a little bit more about the difference between the old standard guitar and Hawaiian Slack Key. Long story short, it began when the guitar was introduced to the islands in the 19th century and involves loosening the strings to create different chord patterns and a unique technique of playing, rather than the standard blues-based progression.

The genre seems to have a devoted fan base, though. Later this month Inglis will be playing Tokyo at a festival featuring the guitar form, but he also has a date this fall in Texas at a regional folk gathering. Stephen already has a brief tour set for October out west.

Nor will he won’t be out of place there. Inglis borrowed from other forms of music to put together his latest release. For example, the mandolin on Cold Sunday gives this song a bluegrass feel with its prominence.


Yet despite the different techniques and the number of instruments involved, I found the album suffered a little bit from a lack of memorable songs. Usually in a review most of the songs will stick out at me for something like Cold Sunday did, but in this case there were only a few. I liked the lyrical storytelling of Maria Luisa, Our Younger Days, and the title track, and the opening song Blind With Haste was a good introduction.

On the other hand, the one track I really didn’t like was the duet Don’t Postpone Joy. The voices didn’t seem to mesh well, so it perhaps should have just employed one of the two.

Obviously Inglis comes from a unique musical direction, but there is only so much you can do with acoustic music in a popular sense. There’s not the breakout capability here like you had with Bob Marley for reggae or Bob Dylan electrifying folk (and being booed for it by the purists.) “Learning You By Heart” is a nice enough album, but may not be the vehicle for broader appeal.

Then again, any musician appreciates gaining fans – even just one at a time. When I can, I always invite you to listen for yourself.

When we on the east coast think of tropical music, we gravitate to reggae or Caribbean songs, but you may just dig this island sound of a different sort.

monoblogue music: “Smokin’ Voyages” by Space Apaches

As the summer comes to an end this Labor Day weekend, the time for throwing the car windows open and cranking out the tunes is drawing to a close. That’s why it’s sort of a shame that this album won’t actually drop until October 9, when the days are starting to turn cooler. Once you get through the brief intro of Entry, the song Sunrise begs to be turned up.

I’ve seen the group described as a psychedelic version of the Eagles, and I suppose that conclusion could be drawn from the pairing of Empty and Desert Life on the first part of the album. Empty is a slower, more melodic tune than Desert Life, but both evoke that California sound with some additional keyboards.

Space Apaches is a group of studio musicians hailing from the Asheville, North Carolina area. As such, they play with a number of different performers and that may explain the interesting selection of covers they chose to include as some of the fourteen songs on the album. At least they added “Fox” to the “CBSABCNBC” chorus of the Larry Norman Vietnam-era song I Am The Six O’Clock News, also selecting the Mickey Newbury-penned chestnut from that era made famous by Kenny Rogers, Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In).

They also took their time to stretch their musical legs on the almost jazzy instrumental Breakin’ The Ice. It leads to the song they selected as the first single, Smile. The song is a little bit repetitive, but serves as a good intro to the group’s sound.

I think the second single, the keyboard-driven In My Mind, will be a better song for them. It will come out September 16.

Once they took care of the country-tinged and mirthful I’m On My Way To Feeling Fine, I detected more of a southern rock influence on the latter part of the collection. The rockin’ blues of Love Should Come Easy and Maybe use the piano to great effect, driving the back end of the album. That part of the album also has my favorite song from it, A Song For The Rest Of My Life, which I liked because the guitar riffs have the sound of classic Molly Hatchet to them.

Wrapping up the CD is another song made famous to many by a southern band. Although (Ghost) Riders In The Sky dates from the 1940s, most rock radio aficionados remember it as an Outlaws song. Space Apaches does it as more of a keyboard-driven tune, which is a nice twist to an old song.

Taken as a whole, “Smokin’ Voyages” was just a fun album to review.  If you like that country rock or southern rock, you may want to circle October 9 on your calendar so you can check this out.

monoblogue music: “A Rainy Week in Paradise” by Elessar Thiessen

Oftentimes when I review a musical work, my mind tries to categorize it into something that it sounds like. But the recent release by Winnipeg’s Elessar Thiessen eludes that pigeonholing; traversing the territory of adult contemporary music with ease.

Whilw he begins with the rain and brief acoustic number Another Love Song – which seems to serve as an extended intro to the romantic I Need A Woman – this rainy week in paradise generally manages to produce an acoustic feel with a blend of guitar, drums, piano, and occasional organ.

There are a few highlights on the early stages of this one: the buildup to a tasty solo on Lover Dear leads into the upbeat I Don’t Wanna Go. Later on the track that veers most toward rock, When The World Ends, quickly and almost imperceptibly becomes the song Without Him through a spoken word bridge. There’s a hint of something different (perhaps Western swing?) in the shuffling track Truth.

Among that sextet which makes up the middle of the album, though, is a song called You Girl that features vocalist Alexa Dirks as the girl in question. To me, the song was a little off-putting and I think it may have been what I thought an unusual rhythm or just the drum track in general. Others may hear it differently, of course – here you go.

Even though the thought of a rainy week in paradise may seem depressing, Thiessen makes it hopeful and optimistic in the title track. Wrapping up the 11-song effort are an ode to his sibling called Sister and another song that well conveys the acoustic/electric dichotomy, The Perfect Bloom.

Having walked back through Thiessen’s effort in my mind’s eye, I still can’t really put it in a specific genre. I suppose this is one where I can definitely encourage listeners to judge for themselves; after all, they will determine whether Thiessen remains a secret to those outside his home area or broadens his appeal.

monologue music: “This Book Belongs To” by The Liquorsmiths

After hearing the upcoming release by this West Coast-based band, it’s no wonder they have a deal in place with Inhesion Records and have opened for several more established groups: The Liquorsmiths have the talent and the unique niche to break through within their chosen folk-country genre. (I really like the cover, too.)

The six songs on their forthcoming EP (set for release August 21) have a nice variance to them, from the upbeat opening track Coy With Me and snappy lead single Get Well Soon to the slower Iris’ Song, which has a nice tone to it.

On the latter half of the six-song EP, Thief starts out mellow but then picks up, Devil I Do is almost bluesy in its feel, and Day By Day functions well as a final song. It could be the final song of anything: it’s the longest track on the album and builds up to a final chorus that begins to drown out the lyrics – and just might in a live setting as the audience gets to know the tune. I was almost expecting a “thank you, good night!” at the end of Day By Day.

Musically and lyrically, “This Book Belongs To” comes across as a very polished, well-done effort. I think the lightning rod for criticism (or praise) will be in how much lead singer Drew Thams reminds people of Bob Dylan. It was the very first thought that popped into my head once he started singing. That kind of comparison can be flattering but dangerous at the same time, so The Liquorsmiths moving forward will have to be careful about pigeonholing themselves. So far they have done a reasonable job with being fresh and original.

The Liquorsmiths have put together an album that is very simple and basic, as there aren’t long lists of guest players or a host of hokey studio tricks here. People who appreciate this sort of honesty and follow that area of music where acoustic folk runs on a tangent with elements of country in it should really enjoy it and I encourage then to take a listen. Since the album isn’t out yet there’s not a full stream to sample, but the lead single I link to above turns out to be a good representation.

Their marketing strategy is good as well, as they’re including five bonus acoustic tracks with the “Deluxe Edition” of “This Book Belongs To.” They’re not outtakes of the songs already on the EP but instead the quintet of songs are described as Thams and his guitar in front of a couple mikes, done during recording breaks for the main EP.

Could this be the breakout for the Liquorsmiths? Only time will tell, but a group which is familiar to the West Coast may have reason to see this side of the country.

monoblogue music: “Til the Story’s Told” by Kevin Jenkins

I don’t know the artist personally, but I get the impression Kevin Jenkins has spent a lot of time in church – not just worshiping, but listening.

The reason I say this is not because he led off his latest release with a remake of Norman Greenbaum’s Spirit In The Sky, a song I reviewed as part of the True Groove “Fully Re-Covered” compilation a few months back. Instead I make that judgment based on the feel and lyrical tone of several of the other eight songs on “Til the Story’s Told,” which came out last month.

Take as examples the title track, which features the harmonica of David Barnes and has a definite gospel influence to it, or even the prayerful Before You Close Your Eyes where keyboardist Nick Rolf adds his touch.

(The backbone of Jenkins’ band, where he is the bassist and lead singer, is Tomas Doncker on guitar and Mo Roberts and Michael Faulkner splitting drum duties on various tracks. Alan Grubner adds the violin on the lead single Janie’s Silver Lining, while Heather Powell provides backing vocals on a few songs. A lot of hands went into telling this story.)

Janie’s Silver Lining is actually a good representation of the overall sound, which would not be out of place on the adult contemporary charts. The same goes for the more bluesy Tangled Up, where its harmonies stood out with me, or the lengthy Kings Of Everything with its intro reminiscent of old ragtime music.

But those aren’t the only twists and turns on Jenkins’ latest effort. “Why do we believe in fear?” asks the appropriately-named ballad Why, while County Line has a country feel with its pangs of regret. Perhaps the only sour note is taking the end of the upbeat rocker Crazy Weather and adding 45 seconds or so of the opening chant of Spirit In The Sky. I got that it was an effort to bookend the collection, but Crazy Weather stood on its own as one of my two prime picks on the album – the other is the title song Til The Story’s Told.

As I noted above, this record would appeal most to those who like adult contemporary music. It’s one you could put on while you work and enjoy in the background – maybe even on repeat as the nine songs clock in at just under 42 minutes. The spacing of slower versus more upbeat songs is rather good, so it makes a nice addition to the growing True Groove catalog.

monoblogue music: “9 to 3” by Ajay Mathur

When a compilation has 15 tracks and runs over 62 minutes, you hope there’s a lot to like. Indeed, there is quite a lot of good stuff on this guitar (and sitar) player’s latest solo effort, which he describes in part on his Facebook and Soundcloud pages as “Bollyrock.” It’s appropriate as Mathur was born in India but now makes his home in Switzerland.

“9 to 3” has a wide range of songs which don’t just show Mathur’s instrumentation but his sense of humor as well.

The humor is reserved more for the interior tracks, though. The album leads off with the country-feeling Sitting By The Cradle, a song that evokes a little bit of an Eagles vibe, and gets backed up by the rockabilly Walking On The Water. Its harmonies have made the song something of an independent digital radio hit, as it’s charted in the Top 200 for a few weeks (#192 as of last week, although it peaked a few notches higher.)

There are a trio of other songs on the record which I could see as radio-friendly as well. View From The Top has some nice hooks in it, while adult contemporary fans will likely enjoy the love song Sleepy Moments. But the more likely and catchy candidate for mainstream radio would be Password Love, a song that begins to exhibit the humorous flair in Mather’s writing.

Leading off the songs that have the probability of making you chuckle is Latin Lover, which has a jazzy note to it. I could just smell the “Polo trailing behind” on that one. The more acoustic and biting All Up To Vanity scores because we all know someone who fits that bill, and most of us can relate in some way to Surfing Girl (Cyber Monday Mix). My only question on that is: who uses Myspace anymore?

Also presented in a unique manner is My World (SOS To The Universe), which employs a children’s chorus and spoken word interludes to create a song that tries to be deeper than three-minute pop pablum. It does a good job of sounding important, although the looping is a little bit cloying toward the end.

Where “9 to 3” begins to slip is the vocal presentation on slower songs, with one exception. I just don’t think Mathur has the voice to carry off otherwise worthwhile ballads like Nothing Really Matters, Oh Angel, or Tell Me Why Do I Still Love You. Nothing Really Matters actually ventures a bit into power ballad territory, while the other two are obviously more romantic.

On the other hand, Mathur’s vocals work much better for a bluesy-feeling song like Love Madness. It also employs the call-and-respond style found regularly in blues-based music to great effect, with a variety of tricks to keep the listener’s interest. I found that to be my favorite song of the “9 to 3” album. It’s also worthwhile to note that it was one of two songs (Sitting By The Cradle being the other) where fellow lyricist Mary Lou van Wyl lent a hand.

Mathur is a musical veteran, having began his career almost 40 years ago in his native India before moving on to Europe a decade later and finding success with a band called Mainstreet. So while he surely knows his way around the production side of things, it reminds me again why I tend to have issues with self-produced work. A different pair of ears would have convinced him to drop either the narcissistic I Song or its extended version that closes the album, I Mantra. “I want it all and I won’t let go and I want it now” is an annoying enough sentiment, but add more sitar and make it longer? Maybe there’s an Andy Kaufman-esque joke in there that I don’t get, but I thought 11 minutes of all that between the two was rather excessive.

Shakespeare once said, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” Deleting the latter two tracks would have made this a far better effort; instead “9 to 3” is more of a mixed bag with several solid tracks brought down by a few lowlights. But I encourage you to be the judge and listen for yourself.

monoblogue music: Delta Deep (self-titled)

A veteran of rock and roll, onetime Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen recently embarked on a project to correct a wrong he saw in the music business. In establishing Delta Deep, Collen remarked that, “I grew up listening to rock music but then I found out it was all based on blues…Today’s musicians miss out on what blues is completely about. There’s a type of ‘blues style’ but not actual blues music. I just don’t hear true blues anymore unless I go back and listen to really old music.”

Yet while Delta Deep begins with the promising slide guitar, hand clapping, and sassy vocals of lead singer Debbi Blackwell-Cook on Bang The Lid, (as you can hear below) it really doesn’t turn out to be a traditional blues album. Rounding out the band are former India.Arie drummer Forrest Robinson and Stone Temple Pilots bassist Rob DeLeo.

Certainly the influence is there, though, in the eight tracks the band wrote – particularly Whiskey and Burnt Sally, which could have been lifted from any number of classic blues collections. Whiskey has an almost jazzy feel to it, while Burnt Sally utilizes guest organist C.J. Vanston to great effect.

They also use some interesting covers, nuggets from a bygone era such as Judy Clay and William Bell’s Private Number, which in this case is a duet between Blackwell-Cook and onetime Deep Purple/Whitesnake singer David Coverdale, Deep Purple’s own song Mistreated, which closes the album and features Collen’s old bandmate Joe Elliott on vocals, and Humble Pie’s Black Coffee. Aside from Black Coffee, Delta Deep does a fine job putting their stamp on these old tunes – somehow the old Humble Pie standard seems a misfit.

There are other tracks which seem to be throwbacks to the 1960s, such as Treat Her Like Candy or its follow-up track Miss Me, which seems longer than its 3 1/2 minute running time. (As a whole, the album clocks in at just under 44 minutes, so it’s not pretentious or pondering by any stretch.) And the adult contemporary lover should be pleased with the upbeat Feelit.

But Phil Collen made his name from being in Def Leppard, and if you listen closely to the power pop of Shuffle Sweet – does that sound like a Def Leppard song or what? – or the song most likely to get radio airplay, Down in the Delta, you hear that influence. The backing vocals and chord progressions of Down in the Delta make it the closest cousin to those charttoppers you heard in the 1980s.

Unfortunately for those of us of a certain age – and Collen is seven years my senior – our tastes tend to get short shrift on the radio. Delta Deep is probably too bluesy for modern rock, which borrows more heavily from rap and hip-hop, yet classic rock stations rarely take a chance on new songs from established artists. They sort of lay betwixt and between, in a musical zone where few seem to tread these days in their stampede to meld rock and hip-hop or when old rockers truck on over to the country music aisle.

Yet if there is star power involved, a band like Delta Deep could push the envelope back. The rock world is overdue for some retro influence, and a good choice would be a return to its bluesy roots. Delta Deep is one project that could lead the way as an excellent effort, and since it was just released Tuesday you can get in on the ground floor.

monoblogue music: “17 Miles” (single) by Jared Deck

I think it was the wail of the organ a couple bars into his new single, but if this is the musical direction newly-minted solo artist Jared Deck is planning to take, he may be in for a long career as a purveyor of a distinctive rockabilly sound that’s as wide open as the prairies surrounding his Oklahoma home.

I really wish I had a larger bit of context than the single “17 Miles,” but as it stands Jared is following up his affiliation with the self-described “cowpunk” band Green Corn Revival. (The red, white, and blue guitar made famous by the late country singer Buck Owens is a great touch, too.) Once GCR ran its course, Jared decided to strike off in a solo direction and this anthemic single is the first result.

And while this isn’t part of a larger project at the moment Deck is promising new work, stating on the GCR website:

I am writing more than ever, but closer to the roots on which I was musically raised. It’s an exciting turn that I hope you’ll follow.

Take a listen and see if you agree. Now the question becomes one of how to market the sound.

If you believe that the new wave of country artists have come closer and closer together, to the point where you have no idea if you’re listening to Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, or any of those others who fall perilously toward painting a country tune by the numbers with the requisite homages to drunkenness, chasing women, and tearing up the back roads in their old pickup trucks, you may be searching for something different yet familiar. This song could fit your fancy.

Similarly, if you are looking for something where the singer isn’t screaming and the bass isn’t set to a pulsating level – but still want a tune that can kick you in the pants – this isn’t a bad choice either.

Jared straddles well a line that used to exist between country and rock, before the former borrowed liberally enough from the latter’s elements to the point where artists like Kid Rock, Bon Jovi, and Steven Tyler flirt with the country genre while Zac Brown performs a song with rocker Chris Cornell that gets regular airplay on modern rock radio. “17 Miles” is a long distance from those generic efforts, instead carving out a sound that’s attractive because it’s off the beaten, well-worn path.

Let’s put it this way. I would love to see two things: first, an entire album from Deck to see if it would indeed land among my top picks for the year, and second, a tour which comes this way. We have a market and a venue that I think could be fertile ground for him, even without the tumbleweed.