When the Hurricane Hit
Jack grew up in West Virginia, where he was exposed to the full spectrum of American roots music. He got bluegrass in the mountains, jazz and old-time country from the limited public library, and gospel from endless revivals in holy-roller churches. And, of course, the radio was always on. Jack has synthesized them all to make them his own and drawn on his study of poetry to add lyrical complexity to his infectious melodies. The reasons he plays are many. A younger brother drowned when Jack was thirteen. That same year he traded a pellet gun for a guitar and started playing and, almost as suddenly, writing songs. Music was his consolation prize for a loss that still grows like weeds through his lyrics. A musician uncle exposed him to Bob Dylan and Neil Young. An older singer/songwriter turned Jack on to Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. And he had been a fan of Mr. Cash since long before discovering any of these. They have all remained strong influences on his craft. The musicians on this disc are exceptional. Three were from a jazz trio. The others were all well-seasoned in many styles. They really enrich the songs. Planetary disintegration, making amends, elegies for lost loved ones, indictments against racism, sexism, and easy spirituality, a post-apocolyptic love hymn, an anthem for the broken homes of our day. These are the themes that weather the hurricane and remain intact long after the storm of the folk-pop instrumentation dies away. Welcome to the storm.