JJ Cale “Stay Around” (Because Records, 2019)

‘Stay Around’ is a posthumous collection of previously unreleased JJ Cale tracks curated by longtime friend and manager Mike Kappus and Cale’s musician widow Christine Lakeland Cale. Rarely can there have been such a rich treasure trove of unreleased material to draw on.  The album is jam-packed with familiar riffs, strum patterns, licks and lyrical phrases. Throughout a nearly half-century career Cale steadfastly refused to vary his trademark instantly recognisable laconic noodling guitar style and shuffling rhythms. He did what he did and that was it. And so it is with ‘Stay Around’; the vibe and groove is reassuringly consistent across all the tracks perfectly reprising a lifetime of understated musical genius.

Lauded by his peers as one of the most important and influential musicians writing and performing through the seventies, Cale arguably set the tone for a generation of blues rockers around the world. Starting out in the music business as a studio engineer in LA having moved from Tulsa in the 60’s, Cale was initially catapulted into the public consciousness through various covers by established artists such as Eric Clapton’s ‘Cocaine’ and ‘After Midnight’.  The appealing easy-going nonchalance of his songwriting is always masterful even in these recordings that were left uncut during his lifetime. While other artists have sought to emulate Cale, none have done it better.

Posthumous albums have their place and value. It’s good to take a moment to remember and reflect. Cale’s songs form part of the DNA of contemporary Americana music.  This album perfectly captures the humanity of the man. It’s imbued with a laid back easy going humility and kindness of spirit. Much needed therapy for a troubled world and certainly, when listening to Cale the world seems a better, kinder, warmer, more friendly kind of place.

A welcome warm breeze of an album to soothe the soul.
7/10

Author: John Vaites

London based musician and music fan.

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