Autopsy IV note: A couple of nights back I posted a help wanted post on the site in an effort to find some additional (and consistent) contributors. For the time being I am gonna post their posts as guest posts for a little while as we nail down the site since the great spam hack of 2011 and as they prove who will be consistent and who’s gonna decide this bloggery isn’t for them.
This post comes from 9B contributor pledge Old Sad Bastard. Lemme know what you guys think.
I know shamefully little about South Dakota, beyond recollections of a family trip when I was about four. And while I haven’t done too much to rectify the situation, other than scoping out google images of National Parks, I have had the pleasure of enjoying some new music from one of the state’s finest songwriters.
You may have heard Jami Lynn’s “Sweet Thing” as the opening cut of the latest 9B podcast. The song is also the first track on her new album Sodbusters, which she is self releasing. Lynn previously released an album (2008’s Dreamer) as Jami Lynn and the Aquila Band. She is accompanied on this “solo” album by her former bandmate Josh Rieck. Lynn’s voice shifts easily from indie rock croon to a full bodied gospel to a traditional folk storyteller, making each song unique, even when the arrangements, mostly banjo and guitar, are similar. The playing is good, and the spare instrumentation allows Lynn’s voice, along with Rieck’s harmonies, to carry the songs through. However, the haunting old-world acappella “The Falling of the Pine” is a standout track for me as is really lets her voice speak for itself. Her website identifies it as a song she discovered while researching her thesis on American folk music, and describes it as “a ballad from the time when “square timber logging” was popular during the Golden Age of Lumbering in northern Minnesota.” It conjures Frank Turner’s forays into old English folk music, and she clearly shares his interest and pride in the history of her music.
The album mellows a bit after the midway point, trading banjo licks for more guitar finger picking. Now, a few years ago, I’ll admit that I would have lost interest at this point. I wandered into Americana, like many punks who started looking for something new after turning 22, over a bottle of whiskey and memories of the stuff my dad listens to. It took some time time for me to understand where softer, more, eh, nuanced music fit into life. Now, however, the more music I hear, the more I come to appreciate musicians like Jami Lynn who don’t go trying to re-invent the wheel, but don’t settle for the same tired standards either. So even if the last quarter of the album is too soft for your taste, don’t drift off: the closer, “Don’t Let Her Love Go”, is another great vocal song, accompanied only by percussion, leaving you to walk away from the album with the tight harmonies in your head and a solid Americana album under your belt.