Thursday, March 28, 2013

Jake Lear -- "Diamonds And Stones"

Jake Lear's "Diamonds And Stones" is a top-notch slice of hot blues guitar & folky lyrics & rock 'n roll sensibility.  To tell the truth, the Vermont born and Memphis resident Lear and his trio have made a great, stripped down, musically adventurous cd. This is the best electric sounds-like-Dylan disc since Chris Bergsen Band's 2011 "Imitate The Sun."

The trio is Jake Lear on guitar and vocals, Roy Cunningham on drums, and Carlos Arias on bass. All the songs are written by Lear except for John Lee Hooker's "Jack O Diamonds"and Junior Wells' "Work Work Work." Production is by Jake Lear and Rafael Yglesias.

There's nothing very fancy here. The sound is mammoth, with a big guitar chugging and clanging, chasing a runaway freight rhythm section, while the lyrics wind around your brain. Every song here invites the listener in, and then either the guitar, or the lyrics, or the kick ass drums, something hooks you. Turning it up only adds to the fun. The opener, "Strange Things," is a throbbing minor key 12 bar blues. "Going Back Home (North Mississippi Bound)" was the first song that got me--I dug everything that went into that pot of delta blues soup.

"Wasting Time" really reminds me of mid-60s Dylan--the drive and the lyrics, the style of the master is on full display. "Diamonds And Stones" and "Down By The River" continue the Dylan-fest, with wonderful grooves and guitar work that I swear sounds like Mike Bloomfield. The next two songs are the covers, and "Jack Of Diamonds" doesn't work as well--instrumentally the single chord guitar is right there, but there ain't nobody alive who can get that John Lee voice quite right. But "Work Work Work" is just great, a Jimmy-Reed type shuffle that cuts like a machete. "I See A Train Coming" borrows that Bloomfield style guitar again, and there's a touch of Robbie Robertson over the Texas shuffle of "I Quit." "Boogie Time" is an instrumental closer, with Lear's guitar ripping it up and reminding me of more than a little of Duke Robillard. Very cool.
I wish there was a lyric sheet--other than that, there's nothing to complain about. Well, I could wish for a few more songs too--there are only ten.  But this is a very good cd, and if you like good guitar, or if like me, you love those old Bob Dylan albums, give this one a listen. Highly recommended. I have a feeling that Jake Lear is someone to watch. An early contender for cd of the year.

You can buy this cd at

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