This is an MP3 of cafe folk-blues with heavy intrusions of jam, psyche, rock, jazz, and whatever the spirit of the moment directs. It's raw, gritty, passionate, home-made, and adventurous as hell. Jason Hanley's a guy who's seen a few rough tumbles in life (adopted, jailed, dealt drugs, etc.), wised up, reached deeply into his soul, and emerged an artist of more than a few talents and merits. Nor has his dance on the edge of things hardened him: the guy runs a recording studio dedicated to getting grassroots music out to people in a communal effort.
It's no accident that his band Sound Proof is the sort of ensemble one might have run into in the 70s, openers for a some more famous group at The Whiskey A Go Go. It's drenched with the stoned boundlessness that the creatives of the era enjoyed in abundance. When in full envelope-stretching mode, there are distinct echoes of Amon Duul II and Can (Screamin), but his true base is kinda like Donovan pumped on coffee, anger, and a more obtuse cognizance of social conditions. Political commentary populates Sound Proof's lyrics right alongside sociological insight and psychological teardowns. Hanley's vocals are sometimes mellifluous but far more often strong and ringing, occasionally quivering with heat and intensity. He found a brilliant contrast in…well, it's either Gail Pemberton or Victoria Pearson, the liner's woefully inadequate re: credits and several inquiries have found Hanley apparently unwilling to communicate...a lazily confident chanteuse with a road vet's art-smarts, gorgeously bedding Hanley's passion in a resonant feminine counterpoint, soul-based and bayou smoky, delicious.
Though it's next-to-last in the line-up, Man is an excellent entrypoint for the guy's work. Fueled by a driving rhythm, it displays what are frequently Richie Kotzen-ish leanings to full effect. A wealth of instrumental colorations flesh out the song and quickly draw the listener deep into pulsing recesses. Played in a live situation, Sound Proof's work would get the joint jumpin' and bring the customers back for more, week after week. Though there are technical problems here and there, a glitch or two, with one song almost collapsing, the sheer energy and willingness to go out to the edge more than make up for all that. Larry Coryell used to execute of-the-moment improvs in his 70s tours and Hanley's work shows both sides of that kind of daring, succeeding far more than failing. And, hey, isn't it the honesty to document a full spectrum, warts and all, that illustrates just how wide the palette really is? Even the righteously surreal cover painting is indicative of how far-ranging this cat gets.
Elsewhere in FAME, I reviewed Troy Faid. He and Hanley are spiritual cousins. Brash, ballsy, intense, and packed to the nines with ideas, gusto, and integrity, Sound Proof is what art is made of, from the street up. I hope to hell this sort of undercurrent catches on, because, now that the indies have been hopelessly co-opted by Warners, Coors, Nike, and Trojans, this is the new alt-rock. Its promises are tantalizing.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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