If Jarrod Dickenson’s third studio album, BIG TALK sounds like a mighty roar of defiance, that’s not a design choice or a marketing decision. The big Texan is settling scores all over town and he means every f*cking word.
It’s been something of a journey for Dickenson in the years since his last album, Ready The Horses drew the appreciation of listeners, press and radio alike and yielded invitations to tour with such legendary figures as Bonnie Raitt and Don McLean. Q Magazine noted how “…his songs carry an independent spirit and grit… a hard-bitten, yet romantic eye that seems bred into Lone Star Songwriters”, while American Songwriter observed that “…his deep, emotional, often luxurious voice envelops songs of love and loss, enticing you into these stories.” Uncut came right out and called him “a smokey-toned Texan with a smooth line in Country-Soul...” and on the evidence of the album’s more mellifluous moments, it would be hard to disagree with this snapshot of Dickenson as something akin to the Otis Redding of Americana, a Sinatra of The South.
So what happened in the years since the release of Dickenson’s soulful sophomore long player, Ready The Horses, to have turned this honey-voiced southern gentleman into a brawler?
After a major label deal-gone-bad threatened to choke off his career, Covid complications left him with a life-long medical condition and the Trump era sought to eviscerate the notion that America might still be that shining city on a hill, Dickenson would have been forgiven for retreating to his Nashville home to lick his wounds and maybe write a collection of introspective self-pity anthems. Instead, as he affirms on opening track “Buckle Under Pressure,” Dickenson has “come up swinging”. The hardships and infuriation of recent years have only added steel to the resolve of an artist already willing to do it the hard way, prepared to stand in the face of a music business that shows dwindling regard for the brand of artistry that first inspired him to pick up a guitar and sing for his life.
This album represents his most direct and uncompromising body of songwriting to date and Dickenson’s decision to occupy the producer’s chair has injected BIG TALK with a drive and coherence that compliments the muscle of its material. Furthermore, he has assembled a band of ferocious players to bring these songs to life with striking authenticity in a series of live sessions recorded to tape.
The album features the talents of Jano Rix (The Wood Brothers) on drums and keys, Ted Pecchio (Doyle Bramhall II, Tedeschi Trucks Band) on bass, JP Ruggieri on guitars and Claire Dickenson on backing vocals. Oliver Wood of The Wood Brothers makes a guest appearance, singing on the song "Home Again", and Ethan Johns (Producer - Ray LaMontagne, Ryan Adams, Laura Marling, Kings of Leon) wrote the string arrangement for the closing torch song, "Goodnight".
Together they create that unmistakable sound that only comes from the assembly of great players, in a room, having a blast. And what better way to flip the bird at those dark entities that inspired the album’s creation than to rage with such joy?
If his previous works have ventured a foot onto the territory of rock and roll, BIG TALK plants a large flag. It’s classic like Petty, gritty like Waits. There are McCartney-esque melodies and the blues get thrown down with a certain Rolling Stones swagger, and yet Jarrod Dickenson has crafted a sound that is all his own. BIG TALK sounds for all the world like a man who has found his groove. Get the record, see a show, just don’t piss him off.
About Jarrod Dickenson…
Jarrod Dickenson is a guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer, originally from Waco, Texas, now based in Nashville. His two albums, The Lonesome Traveler and Ready The Horses, along with his EP, Under A Texas Sky have earned him critical acclaim and a devoted audience on both sides of the Atlantic. Not one to fear an exhausting tour schedule, Dickenson has entranced crowds all over Europe and the US and shared stages with such legendary artists as Bonnie Raitt, Don McLean, The Waterboys, Jools Holland and Jimmie Vaughan. He has performed at prestigious festivals such as Glastonbury and Cambridge Folk Festival. In addition to his origin as a Texan, his current status as a Tennessee resident, and the fact that he dropped enough rent over the years to deserve to call himself a New Yorker, Dickenson is also an adopted son of Belfast. It was in the Northern Irish city where he met wife and bandmate Claire Dickenson whose luscious, versatile vocal has become a central ingredient of his sound on stage and on record.
After a baptism of fire in the world of the major labels, Jarrod Dickenson now exists as a fiercely independent artist, a look that suits him well and allows his creativity to follow whatever path it damn well pleases. Nowhere is this attitude better encapsulated than in the bluesy rock and roll growl of his uncompromising new album BIG TALK, released worldwide February 3rd, 2023 via Hooked Records.
A song can be best attested for, not by catchy words & phrase, but more so by association.
Kasper has kept good company opening for, lyric-tossing & sitting in with the likes of Amos Lee, The Wood Brothers, and G Love. They hand-picked him out of a sea of songwriters to support multiple country-wide tours since 2013, when he released Bagabones.
His music sips from the cool and refreshing waters of soulful songwriters, old bluesmen, sonic architects, fine poetry & a well-traveled spirit.
A traveling troupe of intrepid space folk explorers, Electric Blue Yonder (EBY) examines the mysteries of the universe and reports their findings through song. Described as “Real American Space Folk,” the band draws its inspiration from the psychedelic folk, surf, and cosmic country rock of the 60s and the Space Age prog/art rock explorations of David Bowie and Pink Floyd, all while shifting time to the early roots and parlour style guitar of the 20th century. The result is a genre-bending mix that captures a nostalgic familiarity while simultaneously transporting you into uncharted territory.
“…a meditative mashup of trippy folk-rock psychedelia, cut with a raw, Alabama flavor befitting their roots. Captivating harmony vocals and skilled, almost Nick Drake-like guitar fills complete the picture.” - Steve Morse, longtime Boston Globe staff music writer who now teaches Rock History at Berklee College of Music
The band includes founders Beth and Johnny Veres, who provide vocals and guitar, and Russell Thomas Bush on bass, with an expanding cast of talented musicians based on production scale. Beth met Johnny while back home for a summer between college and grad school and began playing in a reincarnated version of HellaKopta of Love (HOL), a progressive rock instrumental band from his days at Auburn University. They started writing songs inspired by roots music and harmony-driven vocals that outgrew the youthful experimentalism of HOL and retired from public performance for several years to incubate their newfound passion. In December 2015, Beth and Johnny were married. By the spring of 2016, they began performing as Blue Yonder, working on orchestral arrangements for their songs. In early 2017, Johnny asked Russell Thomas Bush, a friend and former band mate of Beth from her Tuscaloosa days playing in the band Squirrelhouse, to join them. Shortly after, they recorded their first EP, Born of the Sky, in their historic home with the help of Technical Earth Recorder’s Robert Shimp. After Colorado and East coast runs touring the EP, Blue Yonder added “Electric” to their name for the filming of an episode of the Zimmern List at Saw’s Juke Joint in 2018, augmenting their sound with vital vibrations.
“The emphasis is on the song,” adds Johnny. “It’s a collective thing to create this music. We record with talented musicians in our community. We take traditional forms and use those as a springboard to explore new musical territory, to examine the condition of our times from a critical distance and how our lives interconnect.”
EBY debuted Between Space and Time (B/TST) on February 29, 2020, just two weeks before the pandemic shutdowns. As an anthology, B/TST includes some of their earliest works interspersed with the ‘vital vibrations’ of what’s to come, thematically centered on the relationships between people as they bump and collide through the Large Hadron Collider of Life. Their songwriting shines through with earnest lyrics and a powerful delivery through their unique harmonies. Ranging from the weird country of “Brand New Day” and traces of gypsy jazz in “Actions” to the sonically dark musings on mortality in “Epitaph” and the grooving portrait of cosmic love on “Your Light”, the songs of Between Space and Time shine like the stars of a newly, emerging constellation. At the core of the album, the band hits their stride with laid-back rocker “Schtick Shift”, the spacious, Grateful Dead-esque “Bluster”, and the boot-stomping storm of “Thunder Train.”
“We wanted to make timeless music that future generations will seek out,” said Beth about the band, describing their style as Space Folk. “We try to be genuine in our approach to songwriting and lyrics.”
"EBY is a diamond-bright exploration of rock's past, present and hopeful future. As saviors of the genre go, they make a powerful argument that theirs is one of the few revolutions left worth signing up for…" - Blue Sullivan of Slant Magazine.