For the last few months, each and every song on Jarrod Dickenson‘s 2009 debut record, Ashes On The Ground, has, in turn, become the song I can’t stop listening to.
Not long ago, though, Dickenson announced that he’d be releasing his much-anticipated sophomore record, The Lonesome Traveller, some time this spring. Since it’s a bit late for a review proper, here’s a run-down of my top-rated, must listen-to tracks.
The 15-track album opens with ‘California (Do You Still?)’, a whimsical and calm song, like a warm breeze on a sunny spring day. However, the light, calming acoustics are offset by gut-wrenching lyrics and the almost painful surge of Dickenson’s smooth vocals. Lyrics like –
“Do you still wear my shirt when you sleep? / Do you still dance around when nobody can see? / Still walk around in bare feet / And talk about the days when you used to sing / In the California breeze?”
– perfectly depict that deep-rooted longing that each one of us has surely felt after a break up.
‘I’ll Be With You’ is a bluesy track, with jazzy undertones, and a little spurt of folk. The song, which offers a strong, reassuring comfort, also showcases Dickenson’s signature soft and almost raspy vocals.
Maintaining the jazzy turn of the record is ‘Slow It Down’, which has an almost Bowie feel to the intro. But, what this song does more than anything is display Dickenson’s musical versatility – he’s anything but a one-folk, acoustic-playing pony.
Among the more upbeat songs on the record, ‘Goodbye Annie Baby’ is a charming country-folk track. It’s immensely powerful and strangely upbeat for (another) break-up song. The song is empowering, though; more of a “to hell with you” song than a “sad that you’re gone” song, and with Dickenson’s amazing lyrics painting such a vivid portrait, you can’t help but think there really is an Annie.
The closing track is also where the title of the record is derived. ‘Ashes on the Ground’ is more rock ‘n roll than any of the others. It builds, and it builds, and it builds; and it surges, and it pulses, and it builds. . . . Dickenson’s vocals are almost angry, they’re almost purely hurt, but they’re also almost relieved.
The record, from start to finish, is nothing short of a polished, debut masterpiece. It showcases Dickenson’s musicality and vocal range, but also niches him into genre that almost seems made for his talents.
In addition to the Spring 2012 release of his sophomore record, The Lonesome Traveler, Dickenson will be making his way to Toronto in March for Canadian Music Week.
And keep checking back for Raz Mataz’s exclusive interview with the lonesome traveler, himself!