The Jorgensens, The Lexington Stretch
The Jorgensens are Kurt and Brianna, who have been working together for the past 5 years, and are now releasing their second album, The Lexington Stretch. Kurt’s a Minnesota Music Awards multiple award winner and Brianna a veteran performer at SXSW. Together they make a formidable musical partnership.
“Brianna wants to be the best, and wants us the be the best at what we do,” says Kurt. “Her song writing is not tied down with rules, and it gives her a fantastic freedom that makes her real.” Brianna has referred to the challenge and reward of writing songs with someone else. “Writing together is fun and challenging. Fun because bouncing creative ideas off of someone inevitably leads you to an end result you couldn’t have come up with on your own. Challenging because when you’re writing with someone, you’re vulnerable. When you can show that side of yourself to someone in a creative way inspiration strikes and creation blossoms.”
The creative fruits of this collaboration are much in evidence in The Lexington Stretch, a completely captivating slice of timeless Americana, that is at once bluesy, jazzy, retro, modern and rocking. The songs, apart from If the Sea Was Whiskey and St. James’ Infirmary, are all originals and the quality of the song writing is impressive. As I listened to each of the songs for the first time, I kept thinking, “Mmm, that’s good,” and then, when you listen another time or two you get a real appreciation of how good they really are. It’s worth mentioning, too, the arrangements, which utilize a full range of instruments, including clarinet, saxophone, electric guitar, resonator guitar, and trumpet as well as a tight rhythm section; and the musicianship, which is top-notch.
Kurt and Brianna share the lead vocals which they deliver with a huge dollop of soul, and the songs are peppered with some delicious harmonies.
The album kicks off with Willie Dixon’s If the Sea Was Whiskey, Kurt and Brianna’s unaccompanied close harmonies getting things going before an upright bass joins in. Eventually we hear a muted trumpet and a closely controlled brass section starting to give the song a late-night jazz club feel, after which things revert to the soulful vocals of the two artists. Quite a start. This is a song Kurt has wanted to record since he was 15, when he took the opportunity of his parents being away to try and get Willie Dixon on the phone. He called every Willie Dixon in the Chicago area, running up a huge phone bill and then having to work the rest of the summer to pay it off!
There’s a similar jazzy treatment of St. James’s Infirmary, now with some slinky clarinet and trumpet interplaying with Kurt’s vocals. It a very fine interpretation of a classic song, that has your spine tingling. Unchained has a soul-blues feel to it, with some tasteful clarinet and saxophone thrown in for good measure and Babylon has a similar feel, electric guitar and brass trading licks.
Goin’ Goin’ Gone is a very cool, finger-picking, resonator-slide blues song, while Storyville takes us into a laid-back bluesy country territory. Real Women, with Brianna needing “no sugar daddy,” is a classic big blues song, with the brass restrained, but adding a sleazy late-night feel to it. Sweet Love is a slow burner, showcasing Brianna’s considerable vocal talents.
The album closes with another oh-so-cool, slow blues with a delightfully retro feel, Chocolate and Coffee Blues, with all the elements that make this album so special – a strong song with superb instrumentation and arrangement, a vocal performance that gets right under your skin and everything leaving you wanting another bite of this particular bar of chocolate.
This is seriously good music, to be enjoyed by anyone who loves blues or Americana. The Jorgensens are a band that I hope we will hear much, much more from in the future. Go get yourself a copy.