Since the last CD by Jefferson Parson—under the cognomen of 'Jefferson & Friends' (here)—the lauded Peter Rowan has taken notice and compared the troubador with James McMurtry, an apt comparison that struck me for its cogency as soon as I read it. This time out, Parson gets even closer to the bone than was previously the case, tearing into the heart of several crucial national matters, especially the 9/11 Hoax, with the cuts 9-1-1 and Inside Job. The 9/11 Truth Movement, which I'm in complete sympathy with, will rejoice.
I earlier compared Parson with Country Joe, Abby Hoffman, and kindred others, and this new release only bolsters the spiritual and artistic company he keeps, but I get an even stronger tang of the old Youngbloods offshoots (Banana, Joe Bauer, etc.) and Grateful Dead projects this time around, discs in which garage exuberance and a foundation-level approach to music making predominate. Within that, Jefferson's Laments is a non-stop merciless critique of America's new Dark Age. With relentless citation of fact flanking broad implication, he pillories the sick, sick, sick Bush Establishment for its insanities and endless crimes.
Ah, but how's the music? So glad you asked. 9-1-1 has a killer rhythm in its earthy basing of angry barroom roister rousing the masses, an infectious recurring theme that gets beneath the skin and initiates a seatbutt boogie and tabletop drumbang. Guantanamo is a folk-cum-oom-pah-pah (cool tuba and slidey trombone by Nelson Bell) report on the most monstrous American sadism since Andersonville. Then he sings of his love for one of my favorite exposeers, Arundhati Roy, threatening to run away with her. This must not happen! Someone call the L.A. Times and make sure the diabolical plot is foiled: the people cannot be denied their Arundhati and Parson must learn to control his passions!!…besides, I was planning on abducting her myself.
There are love songs and more trad folk compositions as well (Phantom Love, Sugar Hollow, etc.), and I certainly don't mean to scamp such equally captivating materials, but Jefferson's Laments is burning up with righteous indignation and grassroots anger informed by the radical democratic notions that made this country; thus, they go front and center. In execution, the guy reminds me of the Escape the Floodwater Jug Band (my fave juggers), with its living-room atmospheres and come-on-in attitude. Both are perfectly in line with what Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and the larger-than-life populists set onto the stage for the indie movement, and Parson, like the Floodwater gang, unabashedly revels in the coffee house approach to art. More power to him, and we may hope for many more releases besides, as there's never enough of this stuff to go around.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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