Traditional Alt-Country from Hard Working Americans sideman Jesse Aycock.
Jesse Aycock has had this self-titled album in the works for a few years now. The Hard Working Americans member is joined by fellow Tulsa musicians, Paddy Ryan, Aaron Boehler, John Fullbright, Jason Crosby, Laura Barth, Allison Moorer and Jason Weinheimer who also co-produced, engineered and also hosted the recording process at his studio in Arkansas. 11 years after his last solo release Aycock has had chance to reflect and pen down personal experiences and vulnerability, which he feels differs from his previous releases and this really shows throughout the masterfully written 13 tracks.
‘Shed The Light’ opens up proceedings with dirty electric guitars, before a melodic vocal line comes in with Beatles-esque feel. Aycocks voice is very simple yet captivating, accompanied thoughtfully by backing vocals. “Wreck Like You” features soft bluesy guitar licks dressed up in reverb, creating an atmosphere for Aycocks vocals to sit right in the middle of. ‘Passing Days’ keeps with the soft bluesy feel addressed in ‘Wreck Like You‘ with string lines backing Aycock’s vocals adding a melancholic profile to the track. The prominent slapback echo on the voice adds variation to a song that could easily blend into the previous tracks on the album, which is a really nice production choice by Aycock and sideman Weinheimer.
Following up with a change of pace is ‘High Hopes’, which would stylistically fit perfectly onto Tom Petty hit record ‘Damn The Torpedoes’. Aycock sings: “It’s high hopes that lead me on this way” signalling positivity and change. ‘Sadder Than a Sunset’ brings the tempo back down, with a lap-steel beautifully groaning away and Aycock singing lazily throughout until accompanied in the chorus by female harmonies. The highlight here is the lap steel section in the bridge which is joined by an organ and spacious and twinkling piano. ‘Past Life‘ brings the tempo right back up again, with cool organ lines and rocking electric guitars before giving us a whole new feel that we haven’t heard yet with ‘Roll South’ where Aycock gives up a more traditional country feel. Squeezebox takes the throne here accompanied by lap steel and organ. Aycock sings softer than we’ve heard so far in the record which makes for a refreshing experience halfway through.
‘Under the Gun’, the penultimate song on the record, chills things out as we sail towards the end of the record before we finish out with ‘Woodland Park’ featuring deep and meaty acoustic guitars and resonators. This track is reminiscent of something you might hear on The Black Crowes record ‘Before The Frost… Until The Freeze’ or something off of one of Rich Robinsons solo releases, you’d probably think this based on the descending vocal lines the Aycock sings in the verse.
Overall this album has a massive amount of positives and not many negatives. Aycock has clearly spent a long time perfecting this release and keeps things fresh throughout. New vibes are being introduced throughout along with different atmospheres that Aycock creates in each song. I’d recommend this release for anybody into The Beatles, Tom Petty, Wilco The Black Crowes (or anything related to them). It’s quite a traditional Alt-Country/Americana release and doesn’t really break new boundaries, but it isn’t meant to do and does what it does really nicely.