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Jarrod Dickenson (from the album Big Talk
Jarrod Dickenson (from the album Big Talk available on Hooked Records) (by Brian Rock)
Jarrod Dickenson has plenty to say on his third album, Big Talk. Adding more Rock elements to his mellifluous Americana stylings, Dickenson has more of an edge as he addresses corporate duplicity, media deception, and activist greed. In the three years since the release of his critically acclaimed album Ready the Horses, Jarrod Dickenson has had a major label record deal rescinded, developed a lingering medical condition from contracting Covid, and has opened his eyes to media malfeasance. All of which has left him with a bit of an attitude.
“Buckle Under Pressure” sets the tone for album. Electric guitar and pounding drums blare as Dickenson sings ‘I don’t know how it got into your head, but I’m afraid you’re mistaken. You seem to think that I’m a man who can easily be shaken’. Recounting his experiences in the music business, he sings ‘You can knock me down baby’ I’ll come up swinging. You can steal my songs, but you can’t keep me from singing’. Filled with righteous anger, Jarrod Dickenson stands defiant. Yet even in his rage, he can’t conceal his crooning, Drew Holcomb meets Josh Ritter voice. Touches of Hammond organ also soften the caustic tone of the song to make it more anthemic than acerbic.
Adopting a haunting, Bluesy tone, Dickenson turns his ire on the media, politicians, and greedy activists on “Bamboozled”. Reflecting on the turmoil of the past several years, he alludes to the shifting and often contradictory information regarding Covid. He takes aim at activists who demand appeasement donations to help the oppressed, then turn around and spend those donations on mansions for themselves. He calls out the politicians who sit on the sidelines but still collect their paychecks during each crisis. Calling out the culprits, he sings ‘all the promises and big talk… ain’t worth nothing. And, brother, nothing won’t get you far’. Fed up with the deceit, Dickenson looks to pack up and run on the rocking, Springsteen-esque, “With Any Luck”. But pausing to self-reflect on the talking Blues of “Long Hard Look” he asks himself in the mirror ‘are you picking up your brother or are you knocking him down’. Realizing the futility of taking sides in a rigged game, Dickenson begins to realize the only way to achieve peace is to be peaceful to your own neighbor. He puts things in perspective on the gently flowing Folk Rock of “If You’re Looking”. Singing ‘they say the world is burning. Just look outside and see. That ain’t too concerning ‘cause you and I can stand the heat’ he urges us to stand together and be guided by love, not hate.
Having vented his frustrations and having found his own resolutions, he returns to songs of longing, love, and life. “Born To Wander” is a Joe Ely-tinged Folk Rock ballad about chasing a musician’s dreams on the road. “Home Again” is the opposite side of that coin. Adding world beat rhythms to this Seth Walker song (which he co-wrote,) Jarrod Dickenson sings about the constant yearning for home that’s part and parcel of a touring musician’s life. He returns to the heavy Soul influence of his last album on “Prefer to Lose”. Punctuated by a stirring horn section, he creates an extended metaphor of gambling and love. “Don’t Deprive Me” finds Dickenson on the losing side of that gamble. With subtle Skiffle and Ragtime undertones, he begs his lover to stay after her bags are already packed. Rounding out the album is the tender, violin infused, Folk ballad, “Goodnight”. A poetic love letter to America’s ‘greatest generation’; the song bids a fond farewell to the fading old men who were so young and vibrant when they left their loves and lives behind so long ago to defend the world from tyranny. Completing this musical chapter of his life, Jarrod Dickenson has come to realize that the Big Talk of people in the public eye is worthless. In reality, it’s the little words – the ‘I love you’s’, the ‘home again’s’, the ‘goodnight’s’, that truly have meaning in life. Jarrod Dickenson shares these words in beautifully melodic phrases that tickle the ear and touch the heart. (by Brian Rock)
Listen and buy the music of Jarrod Dickenson from AMAZON
For more information head on over to the Jarrod Dickenson website
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