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Abandon Jalopy

Death & Joy

Review by Gary Hill

This is the solo project of the bassist for Blind Melon. It is likely to make my list of best discs of the year. Yes, it’s that good. There are a lot of different styles represented, but overall it’s got a lot of pop rock in the mix. There’s not much to say (beyond the descriptions of specific cuts) except that this disc is great.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Up Til Now

This fires in with a rocking motif. As keeps moving, it seems to combine that kind of vibe with a modern alternative rock meets pop sound. There’s some cool guitar soloing on this and it really is a great way to start the set in style.

Black Cloud
There’s really quite a modern progressive rock vibe to this tune. It’s got a lot of power and just plain rocks. It’s also dramatic and has some psychedelic and classic rock tones.
All the Way
Here’s a big change of pace. This has a real folky, bouncing motif. It’s acoustic based and tasty.
Dragonfly
Some real funk is heard on this tune. It is catchy and features a soulful vibe. It’s one of the strongest tunes here, but really there isn’t any weak material. There’s even a harmonica solo later in the tune. This thing just oozes cool.
Hold Tight
With some definite spacey psychedelia, this is another tune that continues the musical themes of the set, but with a different twist. It’s accessible and exciting. It is also another cut that might well fit under the “progressive rock” heading.
Death & Joy
If a couple of the other tunes fit well in the prog section, this one is all over it. The title track is lush and powerful with an arrangement that seems to reach for the heavens in a lot of way. Yet, there’s still a real down to earth vibe holding it all together. We get some killer processed guitar (sounds like some kind of backwards masking) and one of the most developed vocal arrangements. This is certainly one of the highlights of the set.
Love Has a Way

There’s more of a down home folk rock sound to this. Of course, it doesn’t sit fully in a folk styled arrangement, though. It’s just got that kind of jangly vibe to it. It’s another accessible tune that is consistent with the rest of the set, but unique at the same time.

Summer Don’t Leave
If there’s a track that misses the mark, this is it, but really that only applies to the early portions. It starts with a rhythmic structure that seems to be based on a drum machine. After a little while with that kind of arrangement it shifts to a seriously dramatic movement. The vocals here are among the most evocative of the bunch and there are some killer guitar sounds later in the number, too. The bass guitar lines on this are especially noteworthy.
My Only Heaven
Somehow I’m reminded of Neil Young just a bit on this tune. It’s got a definite classic rock texture to it, with some country in the mix. It’s a high energy number that’s quite accessible and potent.
I Won’t Be the Same
There’s a soulful classic rock vibe to this number. It’s got some tasty instrumental work and rocks quite well. It is melodic and tasty but still rocks out.
Willing
The penultimate cut has one of the most rhythmic arrangements of the whole set. It surely has a lot of that classic rock sound to it. It’s one of the highlights, but it’s really hard to pick one because everything is so powerful here.
Extra Cut
There’s an extra track at the end that’s definitely full of that classic rock vibe. This has a great lush and soaring arrangement and really does a fine job of taking things out in style.
 
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