Review: Jason Serious – Undercover Folk (Self-Released, 2012)
To say that Jason Serious’ solo debut is accomplished would be to sell it short. Not only is it full of incredibly memorable original songs, but its evocation of American musical vernacular is all the more extraordinary for his ex-pat status and the talented band of Europeans with which he recorded. To write and record something so immersed in American folk, country and early jazz while living in the states would be difficult enough, but to do so in Munich is nearly unimaginable. If this was a homesick love letter trying to bridge the distance, its rootedness would be more easily explained, but these are songs from a rural Marylander whose roots seem unaffected by the change in firmament, and whose sentiments seem to have nourished his talented, widely-listened band mates.
The brassy shuffle “Met Jack Kerouac” and drunken melody of “Buckets of Gin” recall the goodtime music of the Lovin’ Spoonful, and the steel-lined “ESB” mixes hand-clapping upbeat country-folk, colorful imagery and a chorus (“everybody’s somebody’s beautiful”) that would make Mr. Rogers smile. Serious is a surprisingly polished artist, given that much of his woodshedding took place on the couch; it’s only in the past few years that he began sharing his solo work with others, and only in the past year that he began recording. The sessions themselves choreographed a dozen local musicians, adding deft splashes of banjo, violin, mandolin, steel, horns and harmony vocals across the nine tracks. Ausgezeichnet!