Jim Dead is from Scotland, which I will use as my excuse for not hearing his music before now. Put on his new album Ten Fires and tell me the opener, “Bone Blue Moon” doesn’t sound like Tim Barry. In fact, there are more than a few moments that could come from a Tim Barry record with Josh Small as backup. If, of course, Josh Small was not a charming fellow in overalls and instead was Crazy Horse. All of Crazy Horse.
The vocal delivery has the raw honesty of good folk and blues, and the song structures are classic and simple. But the production has a visceral, live recording edge that drives even the slowest, longest (often six minutes plus) songs relentlessly forward. Dead is no one trick pony however. Right when I thought it was going to be an album of drawn out, mid tempo Neil Young worship here come tracks like “Coffee and Cocaine” and “Hotel”; solid acoustic tracks that showcase his finger picking and the softer side of his voice. And then “Jim Landstrom Must Die,” back to the full band with some open G blues licks whose tube amp grit challenges you to remember that Jim Dead doesn’t, in fact, come from anywhere near the “land of the blues”.
The whole record maintains a nice balance between serenade and wail, twang and fuzz, harmonica and drums. The longer songs are somewhat uncharacteristic of the genre, and very uncharacteristic of 9B material, but if you like your grit a little slow and your chords a little fuzzy Dead and his cronies (called, I believe, The Doubters) will not disappoint. And if the six minute stoner blues is not your thing, the acoustic songs on Ten Fires more than stand on their own.
If the interwebs are to be believed, Jim Dead has no plans to visit the US of A anytime soon, but should he reconsider I wouldn’t miss it. Or, for any European 9B readers, keep an eye on his site and track him down in the UK.