Earlier this week renowned guitarist, producer, and engineer John Leventhal announced his debut album, Rumble Strip, to be released on RumbleStrip Records, a label founded with his wife and collaborator Rosanne Cash that will be distributed by Thirty Tigers. Yes, you read that right, a man known for his nearly 50-year, multi-hyphenate career in roots music is releasing his first ever proper solo album. Leventhal made the announcement with the release of two tracks, an instrumental guitar piece entitled “JL’s Hymn No. 2” and a gritty, rockin’ Americana duet with Cash called “That’s All I Know About Arkansas.”
“JL’s Hymn No. 2” showcases the guitar prowess that has made Leventhal such an in-demand sideman and session player across his entire career. On both of these tracks, his playing reminds of such country and roots renaissance men as Marty Stuart, Buddy Miller, David Bromberg, and Larry Williams with each of his constituent musical skills – as engineer, producer, and picker – on full display. “That’s All I Know About Arkansas” is like a post-modern “brother” duet, with Cash stepping into the role of Buddy’s Julie Miller, or Larry’s Theresa Williams, bolstering and supporting her musical- and life-partner in a touching and artistically successful role reversal for the pair. You can hear the passion they have for each other’s music, for each being members of each other’s “bands.”
With a resume and career as exhaustive and expansive as Leventhal’s, it’s remarkable that he’s only reached this pivotal, “debut” milestone at this late-stage point. And, more remarkable still, is that Rumble Strip is clearly another opportunity for Leventhal to challenge himself, break new ground, experiment with new sounds and textures, and continue to grow, morph, and develop as a quintessential musician-producer. It’s engaging and exciting to hear him turn his studio control room magnifying glass onto his own music, his own record.
Rumble Strip will be released on January 26. Enjoy these two tracks from the project now, right here on BGS.
Photo Credit: Wes Bender