New York, NY, February 02, 2015 -- /EPR NETWORK/ -- "I know how it 's supposed to go, " says Jefferson Thomas. "You write a bunch of songs, you make a record, then you hit the road and play those songs for everybody. "
Well, not this time. The songs appearing on Thomas ' new release Come Alive (out February 10) were chosen mainly by their reception by the past year 's audiences. Thomas ' live shows are often three- or four-hour servings of his irreverent and infectious mix of rock, twang, and pop, served up over crunchy guitars and smoky vocals. They 're high energy, jammy, interactive affairs, with everything but the kitchen sink thrown in; solo acoustic segments, some choice cover tunes, maybe a short burst of stand-up comedy, and even on-the-spot songwriting.
"Transmission, " is a perfect example. An over-the-top psychobilly rant that careens dangerously towards punk, it clocks in at a blink-and-you-missed-it 1:49. "I had just had the transmission in my van replaced, and the new transmission gave out on the way to a show. While I was sitting there waiting for the tow truck, I called the auto shop who did the installation and was reaming them out. I screamed into the phone, ‘Fix my f---ing transmission! ' - and the cadence and rhythm was so perfect that I hung up and wrote the whole song right there on the side of the highway. We worked it up right there and played it in front of people three hours later. "
The song has been a staple of Thomas ' live show ever since. "I 've been busier on the live front - 268 dates in the last two years - than any time in my life, and why shouldn 't that have an impact on your next record? How many times have you slaved away in the studio on something you can 't stand hearing by the time it 's done? Not this time. I 'm gonna be able to enjoy listening to this one myself. "
"Looking For Cowboys " could be a straight-up country song, but it eschews the typical, empty-headed drove-my-pickup-truck-to-the-line-dance-with-a-beer lyrical fare that has afflicted modern country for too long. Thomas takes on the assimilation of combat veterans back into civilian life, with lines like, "Now I 'm watching the man on TV/standing on the ground I stood/cashing it in and playing to win/the way I never could. " With three verses examining that assimilation over three wars spanning seven decades, "Cowboys " at least aspires to serious cultural commentary, while wisely assuming neither a pro- nor anti-war stance.
"Dusty " is a stark, first-person account of a fictional solitary sociopath in the American southwest with a penchant for killing prostitutes. "That 's the first time I 've ever assumed a character and gotten all literary on your ass (laughs). My love-life took a beating for a year or so after I started playing ‘Dusty ' live, because it comes off as autobiographical. " A creepy song, sung in a creepy baritone over a creepy, foreboding blues setting, it would have been right at home under scenes from "Breaking Bad " or "Sons Of Anarchy. "
Those are two of the headier tracks, but much of "Come Alive " is a fun, self-effacing, boozy affair with haphazard guitars and vocals that couldn 't care less about auto-tune, and a slight retro nod toward seventies country-rock. Of all the colorful, flawed characters we encounter throughout, perhaps none is more colorful and flawed than Thomas himself, which makes "Come Alive " a disarming collection of songs that are good because they don 't try to be great.
Visit the artist 's website at www.jeffersonthomas.com
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