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Published: 2010/08/09
by Sam Robertson

Jackie Greene
Till The Light Comes

429 Records

I learned that Jackie Greene was a Tom Petty fan when he covered “Breakdown” and declared “God bless Tom Petty” at a gig last March. Greene has been tagged with Bob Dylan comparisons throughout his career, but with the release of his new album Till The Light Comes, those may be replaced with comparisons to Petty, as the new album is more polished and commercial sounding than any of Jackie’s previous efforts. Tom Petty’s influence is all over the new album from the “Don’t Come Around Here No More” influenced sitar part on “1961,” to the anthem-like rock and roll of “Shaky Ground,” which would have fit right in on Petty’s classic Damn the Torpedoes album. These songs are catchy, but musically sophisticated with blistering solos and beautiful, layered vocal harmonies. Jackie Greene has always had a knack for writing catchy guitar rirffs, but on his new album, Till the Light Comes, he has embraced a bigger rock and roll sound that would have made him a rock star if he released it thirty years ago.

Greene produced the album with Mother Hips frontman Tim Bluhm, who cowrote half of the album’s songs. The Mother Hips serve as Greene’s backing band on most songs, and give this album more punch than any of Greene’s other albums. The Mother Hips are one of the tightest rock and roll groups out there, and back Jackie with the power of Crazy Horse supporting Neil Young. As a result, upbeat rock and roll songs like “Shaky Ground” and “Medicine” fare especially well, while some slower songs like “Stranger In Sand” are weighed down by heavy-handed production and too many layers of sound.

However, the album’s true strength lies in a couple of ballads towards the end, “1961” and “The Holy Land.” Musically, “1961” borrows from the Allman Brothers’ “Melissa,” but the song also showcases Jackie’s incredible storytelling, and is certainly one of the finest songs he has ever crafted. “The Holy Land” falls short of “1961” lyrically, but the song’s spacey structure unfolds into a gorgeous closing jam that shows Jackie picked up a few tricks from his tenure in Phil Lesh & Friends.

Till The Light Comes is the sixth album of Jackie Greene’s career, and he continues to expand and change his sound on each album. Over the past ten years, Jackie has evolved from a young 1960’s Greenwich Village influenced folk singer into a budding rock and roll star. This album is full of strong vocals, stunning guitar solos, and more than anything, just great songs. Till The Light Comes finds Jackie Greene continuing to experiment with new sounds and musical styles, cementing his place as one of the best songwriters out there right now and an exception to the conformity that engulfs the music industry.

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