Somewhere – where Stephen Foster meets Uncle Tupelo, where Randy Newman meets Hank Williams Sr. a group of far younger men take Americana beyond Americana. It’s more of an homage in the purest sense – of a honed art form forgotten.
J Burn, the San Francisco visionary act, whose credits read like an olde time band with Jay Burn taking vocals / guitar (and serving as the general mastermind of the project), Jay Lane (drums / percussion ), Robin Sylvester (bass / slide guitar), Jason Crosby (vocals / piano / violin) and Michael Nuzum (guitar / banjo / mandolin), which doesn’t dare get more Americana than that. Because what J Burn and company does on his “Burnt Blue” E.P. is exploit our musical history, like a PhD candidate supporting a thesis in rock ‘n’ roll history.
The 4 tracks on “Burnt Blue” are finely crafted instrumental renderings, showing just how much musical study J. Burn partakes in. A player piano, banjo, mandolin, slide/electric/acoustic guitars, fiddle accompanies songs about trains and memories. These movements unmistakably sum up the themes of “Burnt Blue,” smacking lyrically if Johnny Cash and Warren Zevon had a baby and its head popped off. Whether or not the instrumental tracks will be included in the final mix is yet to be seen (although I encourage the J Burns faithful to let their voices be heard).
“Freight Train” starts off the set, with thick instrumentation, utilizing all of the SF act’s instrumental pluralism. A tale of the mythical ramblin’ man ensues, showing blues roots, as if a 1-4-5 structure wasn’t enough. “Memory Lane” starts off the bar-rock nostalgia, reminiscent of Wilco or Randy Newman, while “Old Time Heroes” traipses through the streets, drunk as hell, without regret. “Our Song Shared” is heavy on slide guitar, adding a smooth chaser to its libations.
The E.P is the supposed beginning of a larger work, that will no doubt be a further examination of early 1900s musical history, and Americana traditions.
When contacting J Burn for an estimated time for the release of a full-length, he had this to offer:
“The J Burn EP release, “Burnt Blue” is the lead-up to a full length LP also scheduled for 2015. Which will include, all new songs that lean more towards our Classic Rock essentials. These 4 original songs, where written to side more to our Americana / Country influences but with the intentions that we didn’t lose touch with the Rock sound the band originates from.”
You can find the EP currently on iTunes, CD Baby and the other major download and streaming services.
Visit J Burn’s official website for more.
*image provided by J Burn, used with permission