Jar-e – Blood of the Summer

January 01, 1970

(The Shot Entertainment)






North Carolina
songwriter Jar-e may still be known as “Jon Reid” by his family, but his
friends call him genius. For years
now, the keyboard whiz has worked as an accomplished bandleader, fronting his
own stripped-down version of a classic soul revue, and he’s additionally been
an in-demand session player on the regional Asheville scene, lending his piano skills and
his rich, keening upper register to many a local recording or show. His latest
album, Blood of the Summer, recorded
at Echo Mountain studios with producer Danny Kadar, is the followup to 2009’s Chicas Malas, of which BLURT enthused in
a review, “lush, organic, and darkly seductive.” If anything, this recording
expands upon those qualities while aiming for something more cinematic and
traditionally soulful; he hasn’t abandoned the upbeat, at times bouncy, pop
that initially got him noticed, but he’s now more intent upon probing deeply
into the genre that directly serves his subject matter – jealousy, self-doubt,
heartbreak, even divorce.


Featuring a number of guest players culled from the extended
local family of musicians (among them, Floating Action’s Seth Kauffman, Toubab
Krewe’s Drew Heller and Saint Bernadette’s Keith Saunders and Meredith
DiMenna), Blood of the Summer does
indeed trace or otherwise leave scar marks. In the tellingly-titled “Cuckold,”
for example, Reid confesses, “And all that I do/ Means nothing/ When I fell for
you/ Another mumbled conversation in your bed/ Explaining to me why you were
with him last night instead,” while in “Witch Doctor” he obsesses over how “the
poison of jealousy grows in my belly.” Clearly, somebody’s been hurt here,
deeply, and it can be a tricky thing gauging whether to respond in kind or
simply accept the cards that you get dealt.


Lyrical darkness aside, however, these nine tunes sonically
shimmer, as if they’d been kept sealed up in a capsule buried deep in the
Motown or Atlantic vaults and were finally excavated.
The aforementioned “Witch Doctor” is a gently insistent waltz-time ballad with
distinctive Stevie Wonder overtones; in the upbeat “Plot” strings, jabbing
horns and jazz guitar licks join Reid’s outrageously silky falsetto, to great
effect; and the moodily atmospheric “So Inclined” dips its toes in Marvin Gaye
and gospel territory. Meanwhile, “One By One,” with its Tears For Fears
(“Everybody Wants to Rule the World”) vibe, provides contrast and reminds the
listener what a consummate pop tunesmith Reid is; with its loping, subtly
Caribbean rhythm and horns, the song could easily find a home on commercial


It’s a marvelous album, and Jar-e remains a compelling performer
in concert as well. If he tours anywhere near your locale, make sure you mark
the date on your calendar and don’t miss him.


One,” “So Inclined,” “Plot” FRED MILLS





Leave a Reply