One of the real class acts in songwriterdom puts it all together on his fourth release, deep and true--right on the mark. He invites comparison by standing shoulder to shoulder with the greats.
Jeff Black comes to the table with a batch of songs that would daunt any comers, and a husky tenor that incorporates the best of Billy Joel and Marc Cohn. There are very few singer songwriters on the national scene who run in that pack artistically.
He's always truly impressive, but sometimes he's absolutely bone chilling, spellbinding:
The sky might be gray today
And the song just gets better from there. Black is equally comfortable with the ballad form and the rocker ("Free at Last" is invincible), and so is the band. Dave Roe and Craig Wright are the rhythm section, two of Music City's finest. Roe played with Johnny Cash for many years and Craig with Steve Earle, but their credits go far beyond those mentions. Singing the praises of guitarists Kenny Vaughan and Will Kimbrough would just be too long. Black's longtime cohort Joey Nardone shines on the piano and organ. Aside from the cameo vocals of Matthew Ryan and the lovely Kate Campbell, a particular stroke of genius on this record was engaging the inimitable Sam Bush (whose last record was called "King of the World," after the Black tune) on mandolin and fiddle.
Jeff is up to some maverick marketing forays as well. He's gotten deeply into the Podcast world, and the Black on the Tracks tour will feature the artist on a passenger train tour that fans will join for legs of various lengths. We are angling to interview the artist next month to educate ourselves and our readership about the world of Podcasting, and also will discuss joining a leg of that train trip, as we love that mode of transport the world over.
In the progressively new world of small label and indie marketing (perhaps especially where they are combined, as in this case) it will be important to see where the songs of Jeff Black travel. Unlike many more quirky or pointed singer songwriters, his appeal is rather huge, and there really is no limit to what could happen.
Be that as it may, we urge you to check out the clips of this fantastic artist, to stay tuned for further upcoming coverage, and to buy Tin Lily. • Frank Goodman