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And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats - Matthew 25:32

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August 14, 2006


CD Review: Jumpin' Jolie by The Weary Boys
The Weary Boys are a country band from California by way of Austin, Texas. This makes sense, as they actually play country music. At this point, if you want to actually play country music, Austin's the obvious place. It sure ain't Nashville.

Anyway, the sound of the band really appeals to me pretty strongly. You can readily tell that this isn't some homogenized Dixie Chicks or Garth Brooks processed country cheese food product. The time Garth spent listening to lame Kiss albums, these guys were obviously actually listening to Hank and Jimmie Rodgers and such.

Close listening shows the depth of their roots. Listening closely, I can't pick out just exactly which country artists they sound like. That is, they're not just regurgitating classic country artists in a rote exercise. They're not playing identifiably like Buck Owens or Merle Haggard. They're not necessarily great stylistic innovators with a whole new sound- I don't want to overhype them that way. But the country is obviously in their bones, down deep in their DNA rather than being Kiss fans who bought cowboy hats.

They do an outstanding cover of Hank Williams' "Jambalaya." That Hank idea of Cajun seems like about the most identifiable sound element. It certainly comes out in the opening title song, "Jumpin' Jolie." You got to like that basic Cajun stomp and them sawing fiddles. That might be about your best place to start. The instrumental "Lost Bayou Ramble" works well in that vein as well.

I'd probably pick "Drink On It" as the best song on the album. It's more of a ballad, so it's perhaps not as much of a rockin' jam as some of the album. However, it's the most memorable melody on the album. Singer and principle songwriter Mario Matteoli addresses a prospective lover with an idea of easing up to what may come, and the realness of the emotion and the fear of screwing things up before they get started really works.

Generally, I'd pick the more ballad oriented songs as their best. "Bet My Life" and "California Sunset" have more emotional depth not just in the lyric but in the melodic composition than the jaunty and serviceable "Baby Have No Fun." I notice though that the musical differences in tempo and such between what seem clearly like ballads vs jams are actually subtle or minimal. It's more in the effect than the specific musical attack.

I want to dial down the praise a notch to say that they're pretty good, but they're not just a great amazing godsend. They have a good tight exemplary sound, but the core songwriting is just pretty good. "Drink On It" in particular stands out compositionally, but I'm not sure how memorable some of these songs are. They're good, but they're definitely not going to make you forget the songs of Jimmie Rodgers or Hank Williams.

However, they mostly sound right good while I'm listening to them, and do tend to grow with repeat listening. Further, I can readily imagine that this stuff would sound sweet live. I'd bet they could really sell this material from the stage.



posted by Al at 8/14/2006 12:41:00 PM

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