Review: J.R. Shore – Talkin’ on a Bus (Self Released, 2010)
Canadian singer/songwriter J.R. Shore brought home a whole lot of the South from his two year sojourn to Nashville. Ironically though, his new music is more redolent of New Orleans and the Tex-Mex border than it is of Music City. The banjo that opens the album gives way to a hearty second-line rhythm, dixieland trombone, and a vocal that suggests Dr. John. Shore’s songs combine images of America (he seems particularly fond of baseball) with Texas twang, the funky swagger of the Meters, and the soul of Randy Newman and Van Morrison. He writes in poetic vernacular and literary allusion, and sings with both the sweetness and rough edges of Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen and Levon Helm. Much like the latter’s Band, Shore simmers his Americana influences into a stew whose flavors tell of the ingredients (country, folk, blues, soul and trad jazz) but whose whole is harmonious. This is a finely made album whose far-Northern origins are barely evident in the warmth of its South-of-the-Mason-Dixon-Line sounds.