JD McPherson: Rockabilly Gold & Maximum Fun
By Kevin Broughton
Jonathan David McPherson grew up a rural cat, even for an Okie. The son of a farmer and retired Army veteran (mom was a preacher), JD grew up near the town of Talihina, a random spot the railroad decided to drop a turn-of-the century depot in Indian Territory. “Where I grew up,” he told the New Zealand music blog Libel, “was just completely removed from anything resembling a town or a city. It was an hour away from the nearest supermarket.”
Drawn to the guitar in his early teens, the isolation proved a boon. Music became his sole focus, and he’s been in bands of one sort or another from then till now. We can be thankful that in his formative years he was drawn to the work of Buddy Holly and other 1950s icons; his Undivided Heart and Soul positively oozes authentic rockabilly.
If The Flat Duo Jets (or iconic front man Dex Romweber), The V-Roys, Marshall Crenshaw, Robert Gordon and Brian Setzer got together for a twenty-teens hootenanny, they’d hope the could collaborate on something that could rival McPherson’s October release on the New West label.
There’s a brilliant range and diversity: McPherson’s goes from to throbbing, pleading rocker on the opening cut, “Desperate Love,” to sweet, soothing crooner on “Hunting for Sugar.” The bass-driven backbeat and reverb-laden baritone guitar of “Crying’s Just a Thing You Do” are reminiscent of Elvis Costello. And it’s impossible not to hear the Rockpile/Nick Lowe influence of a couple of songs, notably “On The Lips.” (A hint of Squeeze, too.)
The money cut, though, is “Bloodhound Rock.” Fully a third of the 4 ½-minute song is a nifty buildup of standup bass, feint brushes on snare, understated guitar and just enough organ. It burns. You can’t not shimmy and shake.
There’s not a more fun song, or album for that matter, of the year.
Dig it, Daddy-o. It’s okay to shake your hips.