The Upshot: Jackmormoms frontman details world politics amid a surging storm of guitars.
BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Jerry Joseph has gone unheralded far too long as a true hero of the heartland, even though his work, both solo and in cahoots with his sometimes band Jackmormons and various earlier ensembles, has produced an impressive body of work, some thirty albums in all, that have spanned the greater part of the past two decades. An ever reliable rocker, he’s never been hesitant to experiment whenever the opportunity arises. Nevertheless, #Istanbul/Fog of War# may be his boldest effort yet, a two song set clocking in at little over half an hour. On first hearing, it sounds like Neil Young in more assertive circumstances, railing about some cause or concern as Neil is generally prone to do. Apparently the same bug has bitten Joseph, because here we find him proselytizing about the general state of affairs the world finds itself in and in particular the harrowing situation that’s become an unfortunate reality in the Middle East. Written during a trip to Afghanistan, he attempts to frame the situation in less than harrowing terms, describing things with more than a hint of romance by putting a human perspective on all he observed.
Still, despite his avowed purpose to not be obstructed by a steady stream of dire news, the two songs are as dark and foreboding as the settings he describes. Recorded in one take, each song features a torrent of discordant guitars that are driven at a deliberate pace, all woven around a surging sound that integrates both fury and finesse. The comparison to Young is especially apt, given that the extended melodies recall the lengthy jams that accrue while at the helm of Crazy Horse. Songs like “Down by the River” and “Tonight’s the Night” come immediately to mind, seemingly spontaneous jams that find extended instrumental passages cutting a broad swath before returning to the initial refrains.
Despite his daring, one can’t help but get the sense this was largely recorded on a whim, the result of momentary inspiration that demanded instant embellishment. With a new album promised in a mere matter of months, it is, perhaps, a stopgap effort designed to spur some momentum. If that’s the case, it’s an interesting curio, one that suggests Joseph is an engaged auteur ever mindful of his muse.
DOWNLOAD: “Istanbul,” “Fog Of War”