Jon Shain,
Army Jacket Winter
(Flyin', 2007)

Veteran acoustic blues guy and folkie Jon Shain moves out a little in his new CD, Army Jacket Winter. Choosing to open with a Tom Petty tune, albeit a fingerpicked, mainly acoustic version of it, shows that Shain is not confining himself to the familiar paths. He follows that one up with a song to and about his old Silvertone guitar, stating it has a tone that is more bronze or knotty pine than silver, but it still takes his blues and makes them shine.

That's the way it is with this CD. Sad things happen -- "Another Month of Sundays" is about a breakup -- but there is the possibility that nothing unpleasant will last. He spoons out the irony without using a ladle. The tone is often upbeat when the lyrics are down so that an additional level of creative tension is built, and even when, in "Corner Shops & Subway Trains," there are "no cars on the tracks, no trains in the distance / no sound but the falling / of the rain" there are still "angels in the city streets" so we know "life is not a dream / it's but a station / cars upon the tracks / will pull away."

Shain's work is filled with ambiguous images like those. In the closing song, "Throne of Gold," he asks "Who's going to sit on the throne of gold / and who's gonna sleep in the earth so cold?" He doesn't offer answers, but suggests instead in the penultimate song that we need to get down with the flat earth crowd tonight.

Army Jacket Winter is well worth a listen.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Michael Scott Cain

31 May 2008

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