(This review originally appeared in the March, 2005 issue of the San Diego Troubadourwww.sandiegotroubadour.com)
Mark Jackson Band
Love May Take The Long Road Home
by Simeon Flick
There's no reinventing the wagon wheel herejust good old fashioned country music the way they used to make it. The twangy vocal harmonies shadow each other tightly in idiomatic fashion, close yet relaxed, like undercover cops on a tail. The harmonicas are wheezy and nostalgic like a hobo huddled over this night's campfire; the slide guitars croon languidly like a front porch dog in a summer swelter; the pedal-steel swoons like a long echo up a dusty canyon; and the lyrics are full of those beloved, whimsical, often metaphorical twists and turns of phrase one has come to expect from this love-it-or-leave-it genre (Exhibit A: the title track).
You'll find many country song archetypes represented here. There's the rave-up barnburner ("Western Radio"), the mid-tempo tears-in-beer shuffle ("Pardon Me"), and the serene end-of-hoedown wind-down (the instrumental "Old Love's Come Again"). An excellent crossover moment comes during the last selectionthe aforementioned "Western Radio," which is billed as a bonus live track; the bassist actually does a slap line in the song and takes a nice lengthy slap solo that funkfies the country like Cajun cooking spices up soul food.
Aside from a lack of twang in Jackson's vocals on some cuts, the musicianship is crisp and concise, with lots of professional moments that boost the emotional impact of the music. It's easier to appreciate music when it's been put down right in the studio, and this release definitely benefits from that care.
Good country music recalls the road and the wide-open places of North America where country music is all your radio can pick up on a long sojourn through the heartland. This record emanates that laid-back road trip vibe in spades.