Jamestown Revival, Young Man
Gorgeous harmonies, strong melodies, some tasteful pedal steel and fiddle. Everything you need in a wholesome slice of nostalgic Americana. This fourth studio outing by the band fronted by Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance features ten acoustic songs which transport you into the heart of their native Texas. You can feel the searing heat and feel the dust in your eyes as you listen to the two trade harmonies across ten riveting songs.
The quieter nature of the album allows the lyrics to shine through. Written out of the experience of the pandemic restrictions on making music, the album reflects on the process of getting older and finding your identity. Old Man Looking Back, co-written with Robert Ellis (who produced the album) finds an older man giving advice to a younger; Slow Down yearns for a slower pace of life; One Step Forward sees the wisdom in not “chasing greener ‘til it’s turned me blue.”
“I really think this is an album about coming of age and settling into an identity,” said Jonathan Clay. “It’s about losing your identity and searching for it. It’s feeling like you found it and then realizing that’s not it. And it’s about our experiences over the last 15 years of making music – the successes and failures and all of those things mixed up together.”
The album kicks off with Coyote, and you’re immediately transported to a campfire somewhere on the Western trail, a simple strummed guitar accompanying Chance and Clay’s harmonies, pedal steel quietly mimicking the coyotes “howling at the moon.” It’s a complete delight and a perfect intro to the rest of the record.
The title track, Young Man, follows and gets us into the theme of the album. A young man looks into his reflection in a water pool and wonders “Where did the young man go…did he grow tired, Did he just grow old?” Hey, I wouldn’t worry about it, guys – give it another 30 years, see how it feels looking into that pool! The old-timey country feel of the song fits the lyrics perfectly.
Song after song explores the overall theme, all beautifully arranged, with simple but tasteful guitar picking or strumming. It’s impossible not to get drawn in to the wistful, at times ethereal, feel of the songs. Jamestown Revival are adept at making you feel a part of the musical and lyrical world they create – check out their last album, a short eight-song tribute to the Western writer Louis L’Amour. The story-telling is masterful and the melodies so memorable, you begin to feel part of each of the songs.
The album concludes with Working on Love, a realistic look at the need to “work on love like I’m working on the land.” Chance said of the song, that love was “a lifelong journey. It’s similar to how you’ve got to plow the fields and replant the seeds and water it and tend to it. It’s the same way you have to approach your patience for love in your life.”
The wisdom that comes from age.
Don’t miss this album. It’s Americana at its finest.