Written By Jeff Modzelewski
There’s an old saying that a rising tide lifts all boats, and the current alt-country scene certainly backs that up. With artists like Tyler Childers and Chris Stapleton rising to tremendous heights it’s no surprise that plenty of other artists with a similar sound would start to emerge and ride that wave. Jeremiah Tall‘s most recent album, From Bare Bones shows a clear connection to this ever-growing scene without being repetitive. He has a one-man do it yourself mentality without sounding overly sparse or underproduced. The album has just enough variety and showmanship to be engaging while also just being a good overall listen.
It’s clear early on that this album isn’t your bright and sunny, big hats and pretty girls country. Drugs, death, and absence are themes early on. The music has a foot stomping rhythm that is perfect for drinking whiskey or, more likely, moonshine. Lyrically, Tall often relies on repetition in his songwriting, which contributes to the classic sound of his style. I wouldn’t call it sing along music, but it’s him using a “less is more” approach to his music, and much of it does lend itself to the environment of a full bar adding their voice.
For being almost completely recorded by Tall, he also gets an impressive array of sounds on the album. “Cocaine Money” and “Muddy Rivers Edge” have a similar stomp-heavy rhythmic feel to them. String wise you’re mostly going to hear guitar and banjo, but the mandolin takes center stage on “This Is All I Know” and his personal percussion, consisting of an old suitcase, gets a workout on nearly every song. Most of the album is relatively downbeat, but Tall easily moves from dark songs like “Graves” and “All For My Girls Kid Brother” directly into a ray of hope with “This Is All I Know.” Passion clearly comes out in Tall’s vocals throughout, most clearly in “Idle Hands” and “A Song For Rose.” Tall even brings out a fast-paced story in “The Ballad of Big John and the Smokey Mountains.” The songs go from sorrowful to joy and back again, with Tall mostly focusing on creating a solid foundation off of a riff to build the song. Songs aren’t going through multiple movements, and even the instrumental “Celestial Lights” stays on the same riff throughout.
There’s a whole lot on this album to enjoy and celebrate. Country music has gotten a bad reputation over the years due to the tremendous amount of bad pop country out there. Luckily there’s still a vibrant alt-country scene, and Jeremiah Tall is a an example of some of the excellent music that comes out of that scene. If you’ve found yourself drawn to the recent popular upswing in this type of Appalachian-based real American roots and country, Jeremiah Tall is an artist worth checking out.
You can find out more about Jeremiah Tall including upcoming show information on his facebook page.