Jarrod Dickenson – Songs From Willow St. (2014)
I haven’t met many people just so effortlessly likeable as Jarrod Dickenson. His polite, affable, witty demeanour, coupled with the trademark hat and impressive beard give you the impression of a troubadour from a different time-period and that’s pretty much what you get from Jarrod. His two studio albums, “Ashes On The Ground” and “The Lonesome Traveler” are nothing less than wonderful and are remarkable collections of romantic, emotive poetry coupled with beautiful melodies that tug on the heart strings every bit as much as the lyrics; in other words, as effortlessly likeable as Jarrod himself. His new EP, “Songs From Willow St.” features four tracks, which could easily be tracks on either of his excellent albums, such is the quality and richness of the storytelling.
The theme of this EP is, quite simply, love. “Your Heart Belongs To Me” is a sweet, romantic tale of a couple who are swearing their love for each other, told in the form of a conversation. It’s a very beautiful piece, has been running around my head for days now and the musical style very much reminds me of the superb Josh Ritter. “Take A Breath”, with its gentle waltz-time, paints the picture of the kind of young, optimistic, idealistic romance that makes you want to fall in love with someone, just to experience those life-changing feelings all over again. It’s such a beautifully performed song, too. The cello on this track from Katie Boyd is sublime and Claire Ward’s backing vocals are perfectly measured; add Jarrod’s peerless voice and it’s as near perfect as any song is likely to be.
The gorgeous “Misty Eyes & A Troubled Mind” is reminiscent of the kind of sad country ballad Hank Williams (senior) excelled at, but the jewel in the crown of this short collection of songs has to be the almost impossibly beautiful “Take Me At My Word”. Knowing the story behind the composition gives it a painfully poignant context as well, as Texas born Jarrod, who now lives in New York, has a girlfriend who lives in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and they spend a lot of time apart. I’ve been in a long distance relationship before and, quite simply, it isn’t easy. This song, equally uplifting and heart-breaking is probably the greatest song written about long distance relationships and it brings tears to my eyes, like many of Jarrod’s beautiful songs. The simple acoustic guitar motif conveys heartfelt honesty and, hell, if I was the recipient of such a song there’s no way I would ever give up on such a romantic heart.
At four songs, it’s simply just not enough, but what a little gem this EP is and it’s incredible the amount of emotion and craftsmanship that has gone into these tracks. I must have played it at least a dozen times since I bought it a few days ago and each time it ends, it’s just too easy to press the play button to enjoy all over again. It has satisfied my craving for some new songs from Jarrod but, in all honesty, it has merely whetted my appetite for a new album. I don’t think this guy is capable of writing a bad song and even the simplest of his compositions contains more depth than anything you can find in the charts these days. Wonderful.