Jarrod Dickenson returns with a flourish and a bang on this defiant album.
Keenly anticipated by many who have been kept in limbo awaiting the follow-up to Jarrod Dickenson’s 2017 ‘Ready The Horses’ album, ‘Big Talk’ doesn’t disappoint. Its ten songs, all delivered in the space of 36 minutes, are keenly observed snapshots with Jarrod and his backing players (Jano Rix of The Wood Brothers on drums and keys, Ted Pecchio of the Tedeschi Trucks Band on bass and JP Ruggieri on guitars) knocking them out of the park with a cool swagger. It’s an album which variously rocks out like Petty & The Heartbreakers then dives into swampy blues and even adds a touch of gospel country for good measure.
The album kicks off in fine fashion with the streamlined defiance of ‘Buckle Under Pressure’ which finds Dickenson giving the bird to the record company which stymied his career. His attitude, along with the sweeping whirls of Hammond organ and jangled guitar, are reminiscent of Tom Petty and Petty is brought to mind again on ‘Born To Wander’ which continues the theme of Dickenson’s refusal to “climb that corporate ladder,” preferring instead to “keep running down a dream.” The song is a fully realised mini epic which rolls along, borne aloft by Dickenson’s 12 string guitar drive which is punctuated by Rix’s Hammond swells and Ruggieri’s snarling slide guitar, all adding to the song’s drama. ‘With Any Luck’, an angrier growl of a song, finds the band almost prowling amidst a swampier sound, reminiscent at times of Creedence, as Dickenson sings of being “tired of dealing with these clowns.”
‘Home Again’, one of the lighter touches here, is a joy to listen to with the band quite nimble as they skip through this country rock number which has touches of Delaney & bonnie in its DNA. ‘Prefer To Lose’ gets somewhat funkier as the band are joined by a horn section and together they slope quite wonderfully into a Muscle Shoal like groove. In a similar but much dirtier groove is the voodoo slink of ‘Long Hard Look’ where Dickenson is accompanied on vocals by his wife who, multitracked, comes across much like The Pointer Sisters backing Taj Mahal. A plea to take a long hard look at oneself and measure your worth by your works the song is a triumph. Finally, there’s the almost vaudevillian romp which is ‘Bamboozled’. Part midway barker, part Brechtian commentator, Dickenson lords it over a carnival junkyard band stomp as he sardonically lays waste to a certain ex American president. It’s just one of the many delights Dickenson has in store here.
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