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Published: 2011/09/13
by Brian Robbins

Roy Jay
Joy Ray

Terrapin Records

Once you know his story, you gotta love Roy Jay. The quick take is, the man spent the first chunk of his life – the one that other players invest in the road, chops, dues, blues, and whatever comes along to try and trip them up – being a dad. No Holiday Inn gigs on the weekend, even. He was burrowed up in what he chose to do.

It wasn’t until recent years – at a point where many musicians have either crashed and burned or should have crashed and burned – that Jay got serious about playing music. Big time. Joy Ray is his third album in a three-year recording career and Roy Jay seems to have a firm hold on how to do this.

First of all, Joy Ray is a collection of 11 good songs – the potential for great jamming shows itself on a number of occasions, but these tunes capture your interest before they choose whether or not to go dancing down the garden path.

Secondly, Roy Jay has a great musical cohort in Chris Seefried, who produced the album, co-wrote the songs with Jay, and plays some mean guitar himself.

And thirdly, Jay invited some friends in to play on this album – such as bassist Rob Wasserman (yep – that Rob Wasserman), guitarist David Immergluck, Jemimah Puddleduck’s JT Thomas on Hammond B3, and stringmaster Doug Pettibone (check out his shimmering lap steel on “Minnesota”).

There are also plenty of other folks whom you might not know, but you’re going to remember them after you listen to Joy Ray. Take guitarist John Zias, for instance: the man definitely channels Jerry Garcia at times, but not in a mimicking way. (Have some fun with your favorite Deadhead: just put on “Kinsale” without any fanfare or explanation and let the music settle on them. I guarantee you that at some point they’re going to look around and go, “Wait – is that …? No. Is it? I’ve never heard this before …” And you can tell them that’s John Zias.)

So what do all these parts add up to? Some really good tunes.

“Zeke Mountain” could be a cousin to RatDog’s “Two Djinn”, with an Eastern-flavored smokiness that leads to a closed-eyes-and-swaying jam at the end. You’ll root for “Josie” to come home; and in lieu of that happening, you won’t want the hypnotic guitar break that cuts in at the 2:47 mark to end. There are tunes that are just plain fun – the slap-back rockabilly-flavored “Double Down” and the gooey bass-lined joy of “Wash Away”; some are just plain cool – the feathered-throttle snarling guitars and hand percussion of “Hope Street” and the Boz Scaggs vibe of “In The Moment”; and then there are tunes like “Agua Dulce”, whose story will lure you in while the music sneaks around and gathers you up. Or “John Brown” – the album’s spooky centerpiece, featuring a swampy, lurching jam that’ll give you shivers.

It doesn’t matter how long it took Roy Jay to get to this point; an album like Joy Ray couldn’t have happened until it was ready to.

Roy Jay’s time has come.

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