Very pleasant set of quirky modern folk songs.
Jenner Fox is an Oregon resident who, when not playing music, is an international tour guide for white-water river rafting tourists while he also spends time teaching song writing to young musicians. He has a raft (sorry) of previous albums available but this was the first time that this reviewer had encountered his work and we’re kind of glad that we did so. He’s one of those quirky songwriters who create their own universe and populate it with odd characters and scenarios. Add that to a quality cast of musicians (including Chris “Critter” Eldrige of The Punch Brothers on guitar, and Brittany Haas, a sidekick of Dave Rawlings & Gillian Welch, on fiddle) and you have what amounts to quite a sweet and intriguing listen.
The inclusion of Loudon Wainwright’s ‘Swimming Song’ on the disc inevitably leads one to consider Wainwright as a comparison, but it’s the likes of John Hartford who springs to mind when Fox, accompanied by Lauren Balthrop on vocals, sings the lonesome country waltz which is ‘Why Am I Not Bored With You’. That it is graced by some of the most gorgeous pedal steel playing ( by Lawson White) we’ve heard in a while is the icing on the cake here. The Hartford influence is also keenly felt on the title song, a delightful ditty which takes on evolution and the environment.
There’s a fine sense of frontier and individualism on the opening song ‘Buffalo’, the protagonist yearning for a fulfilled retirement, while ‘Biggest Rock’ recalls the work of Willie Vlautin as Fox delves into adolescence and the joys and pains of growing up. Meanwhile, it has to be said that ‘One Man Up’ is perhaps the most rousing jamboree of modern bluegrass we’ve heard this year.
‘Planet I’m From’ is a short listen but it’s perfectly formed and well recommended.