If I was a musician at the top of my game and looking for a second-on-the-bill, I would sure as hell avoid Jake Armerding. The guy's all over the map, genre-wise, and does it all like he was born to it. Songs bust out of him like a demon in a horror flick and lyrically he's way above the norm. His voice hovers between tenor and alto with just enough texture to overwhelm at the right moments, and he can play and obviously attracts the best to play with him. Put a guy like that on the bill and next time around you'll be opening for him.
The proof is in the grooves of the eleven tracks presented on last year's Walking On the World". From the lead-in title track to the end, Armerding plays Armerding as well as only Armerding can. Take Keep the River On Your Right, one of the shortest four-minute songs I've ever heard, on which the vocal lays just south of Craig Fuller during Pure Prairie League's Bustin' Out period, as does the light country-rockin' backup. Or the very Americana-influenced Walking On the World, which rides mandolin and fiddle and a surprisingly perfectly-fitted tremolo/reverb electric guitar into a floating pop chorus high of almost spiritual beauty. Or the beautiful melody of The Fleece, with its simple yet complicated acoustic guitar/resophonic guitar interplay behind a ballad of aloneness you can feel. Or the desolate moodiness of What I Mind.
On the humorous side, there is the not-unlike-Fleetwood Mac Assassination Blues, a musical ride through the frustrations of relationship troubles. And the hilarious Regulation Blues, a backhanded slap at the absurdity of airport regulations and how they are enforced.
The music is good and sometimes great, the subject matter and feel universal. What really sets Armerding apart, though, are his lyrics which are always spot on for each track. The man is a wordsmith, really and truly, and not some wannabe just going through the motions.
Say what you want about any musician or group. If the music doesn't stick with you, it really doesn't hit you where you live. Armerding sticks with me. I find myself walking down the street bobbing my head and on the inside, singing "One way ticket to Hartford, please…" over and over and thinking, man, that's good stuff. Because it is.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Website design by David N. Pyles