The Bluegrass Situation: Roots Culture Redefined

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‘Back to Birth’

Jan 18, 2017

On this Steve Berlin-produced longplayer, Jackie Greene adeptly inhabits the same neighborhood of fashionable yet forthright pop and roll that was built 40 years ago by Andrew Gold and Stephen Bishop and has been regularly reinhabited by the likes of Matt Nathanson and Howie Day.

Greene’s somewhat more soulful, though — more a mix of Daryl Hall with Amos Lee — and that adds considerable strength to tunes like the opener, “Silver Lining.” Southern Cali oohs-and-aahs anchor the song’s semi-funky harp as well as its Hall and Oates hand-me-down groove, as Greene bids goodbye to Bowling Green. “Now I Can See for Miles” is a head bopper and toe tapper that rings with the same sunny ocean shimmer as Robbie Dupree did when he stole away. “A Face Among the Crowd” is a pretty ballad, albeit with some platitude-packed poetry, while “Light Up Your Window” settles into a nice backbeat. “Trust Somebody” draws on the Philly soul ballad with considerable strength, while “Motorhome,” one of the rootsiest songs of the set, takes to the road with an easy attitude. One of the most beautiful songs on the record, his rendition of “Hallelujah,” features Greene singing softly in his upper register to start and then breaking into the full-on gospel clap and praise at the finish. He gets the blues on “Where the Downhearted Go” — a touch of Memphis contained therein — then balances the ballad against the beach on the ebb and tide of “You Can’t Have Bad Luck All the Time.”

Though the words sometimes hang on the precipice of prosaic — and the band members seems a little gentile about their intentions at times — this is a nice record that mixes well with many of the aforementioned musos. If he’s half as good live as Amos Lee, this’ll be a fun record to hear in concert.

 

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