Jarrod Dickenson – The Lonesome Traveler (2012)
I was fortunate enough to see Jarrod Dickenson a couple of times in April 2013, supporting (and appearing with) David Ford. The first time I watched his set, I enjoyed it and considered it to be gentle, pleasant material. The second time, I was pleasantly surprised at just how much I loved his performance; the songs really leapt out at me and his sweet, melodic Texan voice delivered those songs so beautifully, I fell very much in love with his country-tinged Americana and felt compelled to buy his album after the show. I certainly didn’t regret the purchase because “The Lonesome Traveler” is richly descriptive, old-fashioned storytelling at its very best, painting pictures with his words, bringing to mind the fine work of Jim Croce, early Josh Ritter, solo Mark Knopfler and the greats of country rock, such as Jackson Browne and The Band. This is a particularly timeless record, too. It could have been released any time in the past fifty years and could easily have been heralded as a classic singer-songwriter album during the seventies, arguably the height of the genre.
The musicianship on display on this album is also rather special. Less is more with many of the tracks, for example the uncomplicated, but shimmering, perfect piano accompaniment to the beautiful “Rosalie”, the excellent banjo work on the heartfelt “No Work For A Working Man” and the smouldering organ on “Little Black Dress”. Indeed, there are some truly accomplished and exquisite performances throughout the whole album, all held together by Jarrod’s elegant, beauteous guitar and crowned with his sublime vocals. One of the very best tracks is the album’s closer, “Seasons Change”, which is the very pure, but truly magnificent, pairing of vocals and picked acoustic guitar. Although this is a very understated piece of work, the songs demand your attention. It’s an intimate set, more a late night listen with the lights down low and a glass of wine in your hand than a Sunday morning soundtrack. This is bewitching, finely-crafted music which tackles the subjects of life, love, longing, passion and loss with the subtlety and finesse of a true artist. “Come What May” is simply one of the most beautifully romantic songs I’ve ever heard and, like most of the songs on offer here, deserves a much wider audience.
To surmise, seldom do I discover such a rare and alluring album. I fully admit that I did not fully discover the full beauty of the album until I had played it a few times and, if you are not paying attention, the music is gentle enough to wash over you. However, if you give Jarrod’s songs the focus they deserve, you will soon discover an album as magnificent as the best work of some of the greatest singer-songwriters who have ever lived and will find yourself wanting to re-listen to this wonderful record time and time again. Yes, it really is that good.
Jarrod is currently based in New York City, but is playing some dates in the UK and Ireland at the end of June/start of July, 2013. Check out his Facebook page for further details – I highly recommend you get to one of his shows if you can.