Jeffrey Halford & The Healers – Kerosene
The third release by Jeffrey Halford & the Healers is impressive in its musical and lyrical content and utter lack of pretense; simply put, this is great rootsy rock music.
Halford is a transplanted Texan who has called California home since childhood, and the West Coast sometimes serves as a centerpiece for Halford’s musical adventures. Indeed, the opening cut, “California”, is a rocking ode to his adopted home that brings to mind the style of John Mellencamp, a heartland rock sound that reappears throughout Kerosene.
Mix in a little Delta blues, folk, rough ’70s English pop such as Elvis Costello and Graham Parker, plus a touch of Steve Earle, Van Morrison, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, and you begin to get the picture. Not a flashy guitarist, Halford prefers short, terse riffs and solos that accentuate song structure. His slide playing is curiously undisciplined and occasionally imprecise, but those inadequacies work to his advantage, resulting in a sound that’s raucous, raw, unsettling and foreboding.
Lyrically, Halford poetically pursues ever-trusty subjects such as love gone wrong, love found, desperation, strange characters (two crazed, vigilante arsonists populate the title track) and hopeless futility. Yet his words manage to transcend run-of-the-mill verbal swill. Vocally, Halford acquits himself with a voice that blends Dylan, Mellencamp and Van Morrison.