Filed under: Releases of the Week | Tags: American folk, Devendra Banhart, Everybody Ought to Pray Sometime, Glenn Jones, Hans Chew, Harmonica Dan, Jack Rose, Luck in The Valley, Moon In the Gutter, Pelt, Saint Louis Blues, The 77s, The Black Twig Pickers, W.C. Handy, West Coast Blues
PREVIEW: VISIT Jack Rose’s MySpace
WE GIVE IT: 14/20 Watts
Luck in The Valley is a posthumous release by the recently deceased Jack Rose, frontman for early 90s psych-noise band Pelt, and Devendra Bahrnart collaborator. In the past decade Rose released ten solo records deeply rooted in American folk, a reflection of his obsession with prewar American culture. For anyone even slightly interested in Americana or American folk, Luck in The Valley is a must listen. The album is like opening a time capsule, as it fully captures the essence of early America.
It’s chock-full of delightful collaborations with various other musicians like The Black Twig Pickers, Glenn Jones, Harmonica Dan and Hans Chew. Each player is loud and fast, keeping most every song at a constant square-dance tempo. Everything is acoustic and rustic, evoking great prewar imagery, especially the jangly, metallic clangs and plucks on Rose’s guitar. These common threads play out often on the collection of largely of original music, save three tunes: “West Coast Blues,” “Everybody Ought to Pray Sometime” (The 77s) and “Saint Louis Blues” (W.C. Handy). All of Rose’s interpretations are true to the style, but add so much color and personal expression.
However, Rose’s original works are what stand out the most. “Moon In the Gutter” is the least traditional track, yet may very well be the most successful song on the album. Its melancholic melody is all too catchy and will creep back into the listener’s thoughts when least expected. Other notable tracks on the record include the title song “Luck in the Valley,” and the handful of solo tunes Rose performs–all of which exude technical proficiency and style.
If you have yet to discover the legacy of Jack Rose, then Luck in The Valley would be a great place to start. The album is not only unusually good as a period piece, but also reflects the raw talent of each player and the truly beautiful writing of a man it seems we lost too soon.
— Andrew Nerviano