Think about this for a minute; how come a man who was at the forefront of what we now know as *Ameripolitan or whatever we are calling ‘Real Country’ these days, is having to fund his latest album via his fans on IndieGoGo and not as an A-List release on a major Nashville label ?
Mercifully Jason Ringenberg doesn’t let such things worry him too much; he just ‘Keeps on Keeping on’; playing gigs wherever and whenever he can; albeit as himself, or with The Scorchers or more likely as his alter-ego Farmer Jason; for which the music world owes him an enormous debt.
I’m a fan, by the way.
Enough of that……. ‘give me the lowdown on the music’ I hear you ask.
Oddly, for a singer-songwriter the title track, which opens the album, Stand Tall is a glorious instrumental, well worthy of a John Wayne or Clint Eastwood soundtrack, and features our hero in the heady mix somewhere, while the band conjure up Technicolour images of the Old West.
‘That’ distinctive and definitive Country voice comes out of the speakers like a Tennessee storm a moment later on Looking Back Blues; which is as Country as Country gets in 2019 as Jason loosely sings about life’s missed chances, with more rhymes than a children’s poet.
That’s the beauty of this fellas songs; they can make you dance, sing and any old thing you want to when you hear John The Baptist Was a Real Humdinger or John Muir Stood Here or more likely his remembrance of the time the Nashville Scorchers supported The Ramones on a month long tour of Texas in ’82 on God Bless The Ramones.
What a way with words and music this guy has! This, dear reader is exactly where Country and Punk collided to beget Cow Punk.
As per usual not everything here is 99 mph; Ringenberg can break your heart into smithereens with his delicate ballads; and Here in the Sequoias is the perfect antidote to the whiz-bang songs that surround it.
Long term fans will always expect a drinking song from Mr Ringenberg; and Many Happy Hangovers To You sounds like it’s destined to be included in any future sets by the Scorchers; and if/when it does expect a full house to know every single word and extol them with ecstatic force and glee.
If you’ve ever seen Ringenberg play you will know his pre-ambles are often as entertaining as the songs themselves; plus you will realise he’s a well read young man too, which brings us to I’m Walking Home, about a teenager who was virtually kidnapped to join the Confederate Army; but it’s the tiny details in each verse, coupled to a superb Celtic-Military tune that make this song stand out from just about everything else I’ve heard from this era; and I’ve heard a lot!
As a fan-boy I am pre-programmed to love absolutely everything that Jason Ringenberg has ever recorded; but even I can still be surprised by his undoubted talent and story-telling, which brings me to two wonderful songs that must tie for the title of RMHQ Favourite Song. Bob Dylan’s Farewell Angelina is a stunningly beautiful song that had my heart twisted in knots the first two times I heard it; and now two weeks later it’s still unravelling to reveal even more depth to a magnificent tale.
The other is a theme Jason has touched on before; but on his exquisite version of Jimmie Rodger’s Hobo Bill’s Last Ride he dips into the Country Music play book and comes out with an absolute tearjerker, which doesn’t just include a classy melody but finds our hero regaling us with a yodel or two, too!
For a man who thought his music career was over after losing his muse; and thinking he’d lost his fan base……. this album is setting the bar very high indeed for everyone else in 2019!
Even Rolling Stone once said of Jason and the Scorchers
“they single handedly re-wrote the history of rock’n’roll in the South”
Released February 7th 2019
#This review first appeared on The Rocking Magpie website. https://rockingmagpie.wordpress.com/