Occasionally I receive comments inquiring do I review anything else besides jazz. I do.
There are some basic criteria I use to see how far off the beaten path I may fear to tread. I look at the impact of the artist or artists in question and ask myself two important questions: 1.) "Have they made a lasting contribution to the music scene be it popular or otherwise?" and the more ambiguous question being, " Personal taste aside, just how interested would the majority of people be in this particular recording." The BillyTalbot Band passes virtually any litmus test you can think of and the latest release On The Road To Spearfish is an organic and autobiographical look at an artist that has had a major impact on rock and roll while being the point man for Crazy Horse (i.e. of Neil Young fame) arguably the greatest back up band in rock history. Crazy Horse and their impact on such artists as Nirvana and Pearl Jam are undeniable. Billy Talbot could easily lay claim to the title of the godfather of grunge as Crazy Horse was one of the key players when discussing modern day jam bands and their ultimate impact on musicians 25 years later.
On The Road To Spearfish is as ethereal and evocative and the inspiring cover art of the one story schoolhouse now converted into a music room and guest quarters somewhere on the plains of Spearfish, South Dakota. Talbot's intimate look at raw personal emotions is a cathartic release and chronicles the joyous and sometimes melancholy state of the creative process as it relates to the personal experience. Wonderous sounds capes of lyrical poetry paint vivid imagery in a setting known for a stark existence. Similar to the last recording from the late Warren Zevon finds Billy Talbot taking a more intimate look at his life and times and their relationship to his artistic voice while proving all knobs turned to the right and the power of the classic jam band can be deconstructed to its simplest form without losing any of the angst and power that is synonymous with Crazy Horse.
In search of the lost groove...
"Miller Drive" is the darkest tune whose genesis was from pure improvisation as Talbot and his band mates found their rhythm in an addictive display of what might be best referred to as a neuro-chemical reaction of musical like minds in the perfect environment. The elusive groove or swing for jazz aficionados is an innate feeling something worked for by musicians their entire career not something that is taught with any degree of measurable success in the music schools that dot the landscape of this country. While Talbot has always played his own music, the power and intensity of Crazy Horse seems to now be a part of the Talbot DNA and a cathartic release from the stumbling blocks of every day life. "Ring The Bell" is a more soulful vibe acknowledging the personal impact on the first election of President Obama. A slight E Street Band riff runs through this tune layered with horns and an unbridled optimism that Obama supporters were known for before "Hope and Change" stiffed out as fast as some records these days.
From a critical perspective On The Road To Spearfish is the sonic equivalent of attempting to fit a square peg in a round hole. Talbot is a musical enigma, changing and evolving while never losing touch with his own emotional sense of self.
Both defining and defying standard categorization, Billy Talbot and his impact on musicians of today can be directly linked back to what may well be the sleeper of the year for rock music.
Tracks: Empty Stadium; Runnin Around; Cold Wind; On The Road To Spearfish; Big Rain; The Herd; Miller Drive; God and Me; Ring The Bell.
Billy Talbot Band:
Erik Person, Ryan James Holzer, Matt Piucci; Mark Hanley; Tommy Carns; Stephen Junca.