Pennsylvania native Jeremiah Tall is a roots musician who draws musical inspiration from the mountains and great outdoors while his lyrics range from the tall tales of his youth to the realities of everyday life. On his latest full length album, Where the Lore Began, Tall delivers eleven tracks of strong but sparsely-arranged tunes that are melodic and potent and just diverse enough to make for an interesting listen from beginning to end.
Tall performs a one-man show where his vocals are accompanied by a variety of instruments including acoustic guitar, banjo, and mandolin. He also adds an occasional harmonica lead and keeps a steady stomp with a custom kick drum converted from a hand painted suitcase. This 2015 album follows his 2014 EP Waking, which was produced by Bill Moriarty. For Where the Lore Began, Moriarity co-produced with Tim Bostwick as well as Tall, who did some independent recordings.
“Almost Heaven” kicks off as a short, banjo-fused stomp with the repeated chorus being the entirety of the lyrics in this minute-long song. “A Heart at War” follows as a pop-oriented blue grass tune with some strategic stops for good effect and a fine harmonica solo. “Hard Working Man” finds Tall nearly solo on mandolin with the slightest rhythmic arrangement and great vocals throughout, while “I Got a Name” is a banjo led folk jam with a middle section a cool clapping/percussion. “Where The Dandelions Roam” is a slightly melancholy ode to a love of nature not shared by a significant other and features good acoustic guitar action, where “Moonlight” is the first song with a rich arrangement, including a Farfisa organ by Ben Mazz as well as a richer bass and vocal effects, which works to give this short track a haunting feel.
Another pleasant but haunting acoustic folk, “Never Surrender” is decorated with some strings for a cool vibe as the lyrics tell of armed resistance and the harmonica lead is an overall highlight on the album. “Time” is a much brighter song than the preceding cuts, almost a celebratory love song all performed above a scratched out banjo riff, sparse but effective bass and some slight backing vocals in the chorus. “Two Timing Tommy” is a working-class acoustic guitar folk song about a bank robbing anti-hero. The inclusion of Erica Erenyi on cello and Jamie Shadowlight on violin really work here to make this a dark and direct tune. “Working For” is a moody track about a worn out laborer and this features another rich arrangement with thumping rhythms and some very potent vocal dynamics. The album concludes with “Salvation”, which completes the loop as a banjo track with lyrics that are dramatic and a vocal delivered with much desperation.
Since the release of Where the Lore Began in October 2015, Jeremiah Tall has continued to play heavily in the Northeast and in 2016 began to tour across the USA as a supporting act.
Proud motor city resident Nick Pivot released his debut Detroitville in 2015. This pure country, slightly comical EP features well produced songs with simple, accessible hooks and themes. The album was produced by Robert Crenshaw who took a classic country approach, inspired by the sounds of artists such as Tennessee Ernie Ford and Buck Owens. Several top-notch Detroit area musicians played on the record.
The “Nick Pivot” name was originally adopted as the pen name of journalist Mike Nickele when he was the news editor at Auto Week magazine. Nickele had previously worked in a Chrysler assembly plant while in college, all the while writing and performing music. Starting off in rock bands, Nickele eventually migrated towards country music and Nickele formed a duo called Skin and Bones, where the earliest versions of songs that appear on Detroitville were forged.
The EP begins with “A Box of Wine, a Bag of Weed and Judge Judy”, the ultimate anthem of the unemployed slacker. “High and Inside” follows with more clever lyrics along with many bluegrass elements and a great slide guitar. The Best overall song on the album is “Honky Tonk Crowd”, a pure slow country waltz with rapid mandolin, accordion, stand-up bass and a nice chorus of backing vocals behind Pivot’s melancholy vocals. “Help Mr. Wizard” features a good mixture of blended electric and lap steel guitars along with a saxophone which gives this song a real musical edge, while the short but effective “Rock Town” is the closest to an actual rock song with well-treated, edgy vocals and a methodical drum roll throughout to complement a consistent electric guitar and bass riff.
The most indelible track on Detroitville is the quasi-theme track “Fuck You, I’m from Detroit”, an intentional chant, which one can foresee being a classic in Detroit for decades to come. Musically, this acoustic-based track is joined by a slide guitar and crowd effects, while lyrically Pivot name drops a lot of Detroit musicians as well as cultural landmarks. As for the vulgar title of this track, Pivot shrugs it off as a “friendly ‘howdy do’.”
The sub-title to Detroitville is “Shop floor country from the Motor City”, a complex yet common theme for this populist album.
In an unprecedented move, Bob Dylan has become the first musical composer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday, October 13th. Although Dylan had been speculated as a possible Nobel winner throughout the years, today’s selection was a huge surprise for those attending the prize announcement in Stockholm.
Born Robert Zimmerman, he adopted his stage name from poet Dylan Thomas. The 75-year-old, self-taught musician, has been performing, recording and composing for well over a half century and over that span has released 37 studio albums, 11 live albums, and a dozen editions of “bootleg” collections. Dylan has also been the subject of and starred in several films and published several books. His most potent work in recorded music came in the mid 1960s with classic albums such as The Times They Are a’ Changin’, Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde On Blonde. This latter album was cited by the Nobel Academy’s permanent secretary Sara Danius, who also said that Dylan’s songs were “poetry for the ears”.
Dylan forged his sound with influence from Delta blues and folk music, most pointedly Woody Guthrie, as well as rock icons like Elvis Presley. He adopted his surrealistic lyrical style from many poets and authors such as Arthur Rimbaud and Anton Chekhov. Dylan will receive this unexpected Nobel prize on December 10th and it will sit on his trophy case along with his 11 Grammy awards, Golden Globe award and 2001 Oscar for best original song.