Video: Michael Messer and Chaz Jankel “Mostly We Drive”

Easy, flowing currents of melody tumble through ‘Mostly We Drive’ from gifted songwriting duo Michael Messer and Chaz Jankel.  Throughout the song, the rhythms of resonating guitar and the sumptuous, slipping, sliding notes are absolutely gorgeous from two great artists who combine many years of songwriting experience and precision playing to create a fresh, new bluesy sound.  Michael Messer’s thoughtful lyrics are striking: “One day we die, the rest we’re alive,” and all the songs from the duo will have you seeking adventure and life.

This is the first single and title track from the forthcoming new album from the duo.  ‘Mostly We Drive’, a collection of new and original songs, is due for release on 19th January 2024.  Over several decades and ten albums, Michael Messer has displayed an individual and adventurous approach to the blues, incorporating a range of styles and genres into his mesmerising slide guitar-driven songs.  Johnny Cash was a fan and wrote the liner notes for Messer’s collaborative album ‘Rhythm Oil’.  Cash said: “What I hear here is the real thing. This record carried me away to a long time ago, down a Delta dirt road to a land of my musical good-old-daysing.”  Meanwhile, back in the 1970s, Chaz Jankel joined Kilburn & The High Road and began writing with the frontman, Ian Dury.  Jankel would continue this partnership through Ian Dury’s years with The Blockheads and beyond, with various other credits, collaborations and solo records.

The pair had known one another for years before finally getting together in the studio.  Messer explains: “In early March 2020, we decided that it was about time we got together for a jam. So a few days before the Covid lockdown I drove over to Chaz’s. When I arrived, to my surprise, Chaz had spent the morning in his studio, putting some musical ideas together for me to add my parts to.” 

Jankel continues: “I thought it wise to prepare a few musical sketches on my Mac, based on how I thought we could collaborate. This was really the stock for the soup.”

Messer takes up the story again: “A couple of days later, Chaz sent me some rough mixes. We were both excited about the music and agreed that we had the bones of an album. Then, lockdown was upon us… I started writing lyrics and Chaz continued sending musical ideas over. It wasn’t until September 2021 that we started recording what was to become an album. Over the following year we constructed, created, recorded and mixed the music ourselves, which enabled us to focus. It was a wonderful experience, because we were pulling each other in different directions, and hopefully producing great music along the way.”

Jankel says: “That’s been the journey throughout making this album. There is a cross-over point where our different musical orientations chime and here it is. During our recent photo session, as the camera clicked away, we played through these songs, two guitars, or one guitar and one piano.  They felt SO good to play. The path continues…”

Messer adds: “The lyrics on this album, although written by me, were inspired by ideas that came from both of us while talking about all kinds of things, but with themes often returning to the state of our world and how time becomes so precious as we grow older.”

The result of Messer and Jankel’s combined talents is a genuinely accessible album, with great hooks and melodies to absorb.  Check it out.

About Andrew Frolish 1385 Articles
From up north but now hiding in rural Suffolk. An insomniac music-lover. Love discovering new music to get lost in - country, singer-songwriters, Americana, rock...whatever. Currently enjoying Nils Lofgren, Ferris & Sylvester, Tommy Prine, Jarrod Dickenson, William Prince, Frank Turner, Our Man in the Field...
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Harry Scott

It’s worth noting that “Rhythm Oil” was a collaboration with two sadly departed musicians, Jesse ‘Guitar’ Taylor of Joe Ely fame, and the much-missed Terry Clarke. Terry was an inspiration to many and I would urge people to check out his catalog…worth an article itself?