Just so damn good.
One of my favorite new albums comes by way of the Catskills, courtesy of Jonathan Robert Linaberry. Linaberry, aka The Bones of J.R. Jones, feels like a man out of time, which is not to say his time is coming. Rather, it’s a premonition that he would be at home in several eras come before us. Had we been wandering past an old juke joint in upstate New York in 1954, this music and this man would likely have poured forth from it.
Ones To Keep Close is a mixture of American heritage as we like to think of it: soulful, somewhat sorrowful and blue collar, bare-handed but determined. “Sinner’s Song” has an Irish folk backbone, and “Please” draws on gospel structures as effectively as a Baptist preacher. One of my favorites hits us three tracks in. “Slow Down” has a remarkably seductive pace, starting out with just J.R. and his guitar until the base and the ivories kick in at 1:00, followed by haunting backup vocals a few seconds later. This is a slow burn, fired by a grunged guitar solo at 2:20 that slowly fades to nothing. J.R. Jones has America in his bones.
“Slow Down” slides into one of the strongest songs on the album, “Know My Name.” This song is just so smooth, traditional at heart but edged by funk, it’s begging to be showcased on an indie soundtrack. And “Die Young,” where J.R. slows down with melancholy softness, is the perfect compliment to the summer that’s surely coming. It’s been a long time since I’ve loved an album this purely, and I’m so glad to have found it now. ‘Tis truly one to keep close.
So I took any road that came along.
Leave it to a pianist from England to play old-fashioned American Blues better than most musicians half his age.
All hail Alynda Lee Segarra, a woman’s woman.
If you’re not listening to Lynette Williams…you should be listening to Lynette Williams.
For those who don’t know, I’ve been working with the California Historical Society (CHS) for the past six months or so creating and curating digital content for a Summer of Love 50th anniversary that is now upon us. CHS is working with SF Travel to coordinate a statewide commemoration with international reach, and partner organizations such as my beloved Western Neighborhoods Project will have programming and exhibitions throughout the year that showcase San Francisco and California in 1967.
To whet your palate, I’ve curated a playlist of songs and speeches from 1967. All from 1967.
Turn on, tune in, and drop out of 2017…my little time travelers. Nostos Nic Loves You.