Sunlight Blue Madness – One-Eyed Jack
The temperature outside is 29 degrees. I had to scrape frost off my car
windows before driving it. And I still couldn’t see all that well since the
defroster took its time heating up. I have a major cold that makes it seem as
if the upper half of my skull is stuffed up.
Now, what does this have to do with reviewing the latest by One-Eyed
Jack? Listening to the New Jersey act evokes thoughts of summertime and
wearing cargo shorts that are filled with concert ticket stubs, loose change
and various paraphernalia. I could easily envision being on some grassy field
getting off to the effervescent spirits (Pride in Your Pain) and heavy
blues workouts (Copperhead Well) that act as Exhibits A and B on "Sunlight
The sound is an ever-evolving one. So, it’s hard to pin down points of
references as they shoosh by, which is always a good thing. Nothing wrong
with noticing an influence, but it’s another to be engulfed by them. One-Eyed
Jack doesn’t have that problem.
It almost feels dishonest to try to describe the music because it hits at
more of an imagistic and emotional level. In general, the album’s mood is
mellow and coincides with its title for the most part. There is very little
"madness" going on here, however.
I thought that there was more than one songwriter involved since dreamy
songs that bring to mind open roads and fields of tall grass alternately make
room for more potent and hard-driving numbers reminiscent of the Allman
Brothers. The country-tinged feel on Shotgun Mama initially seems out of
place, but it eventually makes its home among the other 12 tracks. It turns
out that the credit for this goes out to Joe Boris who is responsible for all
the material. At times, his lyrics move upon familiar ground, particularly
the bluesy tunes. But, to be honest, I was too busy letting the music sweep
over me to allow these negatives to have much effect.
Of course, the main idea with jam bands is to allow the song to unite
with a sympathetic group of musicians who will then create an ongoing source
of magic. The guitar work of Boris and Gary Gallagher tend to fixate mostly
on lighter touches, which gives the songs a distinctive flavor. The crisp
production allows each note to float above the heavens without ignoring the
rest of the instrumentation.
Although, the group has been around for nearly 10 years, it has
concentrated on the regional circuit. Hopefully, "Sunlight Blue Madness" will
be the catalyst for a wider slate of tourdates and I can see if an evening
listening to One-Eyed Jack perform live is as pleasurable as I imagined.