Okay so the secret’s out, or at least it will be when the man in question reads this review. I’ve had your album all along, sir. I wanted to just shove it in my player, listen to it and do it as much wordy justice as possible. I wasn’t paid for this one, I don’t have to like it or find enough on it to defend it as a good try at a respectable follow up like so many of the artists that already have a place on my reserved list. Coming to music brand new and open-minded is always good but after a while it gets harder to do because the people you already like are on their fifth studio album and you stick to certain choices that become safe. You don’t know when it happened, you didn’t want it to happen but your choices become predictable and any time someone offers you something that you have never heard before you should grasp it. Well, Jeff Jepson didn’t exactly hand me this chance, in fact he fed me some line there being only one copy of this collection. Finally getting my hands on it I was eager to hear the music.Inside seems to be a really cruel joke from Jeff. It is an astounded song that drops you in the middle of a mood without warning. A late night feel, a piano and a really good vocal that made me rethink everything I was going to write about this album. One song, one bloody song made me sit up and take notice. “Christ, what’s this!” Get the Jack D, I’m going nowhere this man means business.” Atmosphere isn’t in it, it is absolutely dripping in the stuff and the worst part is it’s only 51 seconds long and it’s the first song on the ruddy album! Strap yourself in!
That song is long enough to make you want it to go on longer, but the ride isn’t over by a long shot as soon enough we’ve put down the JD and were all folksy and his voice is off in another direction on Now What Have I Done? Nice guitar work, understated drums and even high vocal parts too. When the vocals are done the instrumentation drops briefly into dark lower tones and then we’re off again.
Feeling It Through Me is jaunty, skipping through the musical leaves in the sunshine, don’t fret though, he hasn’t disappeared to pick daisies just yet because it gets slow, deep and interesting again for Easily You. Jeff says he has been compared to anyone and everyone (some he agrees with and some not so much, Billy Joel, for instance). Here’s where I get a slap for thinking this track sounds a bit like I Can’t Tell You Why style Eagles. Add that one to the list. Once again though, we reach that same point where you think you’re far enough in the track to have figured it out and then the acoustic is put dwarfed as the guitar is plugged in for the last minute or two of the track. The gentle mood of the song is not trampled by the electric presence, far from it.
In terms of instrumentation, there are some electric moments but large parts of this collection are acoustic. Who Would Ever Be for is sugary, simple and melodic but a stand out track is Stolen with it’s intriguing fade up introduction and enough musical changes to keep your ears interested. Jeff’s vocal seems to fit effortlessly in-between gaps in the sounds rather than covering it like a blanket. Speaking Your Mind carries a great effect with the guitars almost like sirens at one point and they return to carry out the song. That song serves as a taste of what is to come as then we have Say which jumps between smooth sounds and a textured vocal to actual proper real guitars, with leads and amplifiers and everything. If nothing else Jeff Jepson certainly keeps you guessing. When he decides to plug in, it’s both unexpected and welcome.
The final track on this collection is Too Relaxed To Say and it is from the same vein as the opening track, back to the late night feel, the relaxed side of sleepy or the content side of drunk. When you are the last guy at the bar and the place is all dark but for you, the barman and the guy on the spotlight. Bluesy, “Wake me up for a while” he sings, I concur, but also “Hold me up” too, perhaps I wasn’t far away with the sleepy and/or drunk atmosphere created. Easily one of the best songs on the collection and a nice way to end the set, I feel it’s a volume two to the first track but I could be way off the mark.
All in all this collection proves that Jeff Jepson has a great voice. The softer, flowy acoustic stuff shows off his harmony too but he also has enough to get deep and gravely, almost Damon Gough-like in places. Majorly acoustic and a little bit folksy, this album has glimpses of electrics too and it would be interesting to hear more in that direction but the vocal is enough to make up for the lack of electric. We do get a glimpse at everything Jeff is, in fourteen songs. If that doesn’t grab you, he’s gone for a face cover shot. He does a great impression of Kenny from South Park on the cover but don’t worry, dear readers, when I say face I’m not talking Phil Collins’ Face Value face (put his face on a stamp, or stamp on his face, whichever).
But seriously, face facts. Good music is good music.
“And they sit at the bar and put bread in my jar and say ‘Man, what are you doing here!’”
© Simon A. Moult / Moultymedia 2006
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