Jeff Black Releases B-Sides and Confessions, Volume Two

| February 3, 2013 | 0 Comments

When I listen to a new CD by an artist I’ve never heard before, I tend to do a little test: How many songs into the set does it take before I hit the “skip” button? In the case of singer/songwriter Jeff Black and “B-Sides and Confessions, Volume Two,” I might as well just super glue the “skip” button – there’s no need for it here. This is a disc of 12 superlative tunes, all penned by Black, an acclaimed singer and songwriter who has worked with the likes of Waylon Jennings, the great Mandolin player Sam Bush (who appears on Volume Two), Allison Kraus and Iris DeMent. Black’s song “Frozen Fields” was a cut on last year’s Grammy award-winning “Paper Airplane” by Allison Kraus and Union Station. Black’s writing has been described as “the tradition of an artist delivering songs that are damn near perfect, crafted and filled with the wisdom of the ages “B-Sides and Confessions, Volume Two,” Black’s ninth CD, is his latest collection of moving, soul-filled songs from an insightful story teller. Before he’s a guitarist, Black is a poet who evokes images that clearly are coming from his heart, and not just his head.

As I listened to the first four or five cuts, “All Right Now,” “Molly Rose,” “Avalon,” “Impala” and “Alice Carry,” I was struck with some serial thoughts that ran along the lines of “I hear a touch of John Lee Hooker” here; this one reminds me of Lyle Lovett, or John Gorka, and this one evokes a thought of Billy Joel. About five songs in, this epiphany dissolved when the truth hit me: Black doesn’t sound a bit like Hooker or Lovett, Gorka or Joel. The fact is, they all sound a bit like him, and that’s a distinction with a difference to me.

Black is joined on “Volume Two” by a bevy of musical stars in their own right, starting with the afore- mentioned Sam Bush, the triple Grammy award winning mandolin player who has been called “the modern day Bill Monroe.” Along with Bush and resonator/lap-steel guitarist Jerry Douglas, winner of 13 Grammy awards who has appeared on an astounding 1,600 albums, singer/guitarist Matraca Berg, the youngest nominee ever to the Nashville Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and Gretchen Peters who has composed hits for Martina McBride, Etta James, Trisha Yearwood, Patty Loveless, George Strait, Anne Murray, as well as for rock singers Neil Diamond and co-writing songs with Bryan Adams. She also won the Country Music Association Song of the Year award for Martina McBride’s “Independence Day.” Along with drummer Kenny Wright and bassist Scott Evans, this band has created a remarkable collection of roots-driven and heartbreaking tunes. You can’t help but be touched by these songs. If they don’t pull your heart strings, then someone must have cut them.

Jeff Black photo courtesy of Michael Wilson.

Said to be frequently “flying below the radar,” Black has an innovative way of connecting to his fans. Called “the Blacklist,” Black’s supporters have morphed from a small cadre of faithful podcast subscribers into a dedicated family. Black created a cutting-edge file exchange website call the TAPROOM to better serve his loyal fan base. It features continuous streaming audio, and is the way Black has distinguished himself from mainstream artists.

For more information on “B-Sides and Confessions, Volume Two,” and for sound samples, visit www.JeffBlack.com. And when you buy this CD, make sure you buy two of them. The first person you play this CD for is going to want to steal yours, and it will be better to have one to give them.

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