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Merle Jagger (from Trash Talking Guitars on JTMMUSIC) (by Lee Zimmerman)
First, it’s best to clear up any misconceptions. Merle Jagger isn’t an individual. And it’s not an amalgam of Merle Haggard and Mick Jagger. It is, however, an adept ensemble, one that bows to the origins of Alt Country, as filtered through Rock and Roll, Rockabilly, Classic Country, and Western Swing, sharing their sound with both reverence and resolve. Comprised of singer/guitarist Mark Christian, drummer Johnny Ray, and bassist Gabe Davis, Merle Jagger emphasizes a sound that echoes the influences of several guitar greats — iconic session player Joe Maphis, Roy Buchannan, Danny Gatton, Jimmy Bryant, and Merle Travis in particular — and emerges as a sound the band refer to as ‘Ranch Rock’, which, in fact, translates as retro revival. They retrace the roots, whether in the form of heartbreaking laments or rowdy, rambunctious rock-outs. The latter is especially evident on the new album’s final entry, "Ranch Rock Revival”, a riveting instrumental that provides nothing less than an absolutely dazzling display of verve and veracity.
Produced and engineered by Michael Dumas, a studio veteran whose credits grace Dwight Yoakum’s early albums, Trash Talking Guitars reflects Christian’s desire to make an album that possesses the verve and variety of essential Americana. That said, his ambitions extend into some unexpected realms as well, whether it’s within the collective harmonies that reference everyone from The Eagles to Pink Floyd, to the deft instrumental arrangements reminiscent of the Allman Brothers and the great Southern Rock legends of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. So too, songs such as “Reckless”, “Hurt by Love”, “Pour Me a Drink”, “Another Bar To Cry In”, and “Broken Home Yard Sale” apply an obligatory twang that’s well in keeping with Christian’s fondness for Honky Tonk and other forms of raucous revelry. Yet, while the music does lean towards a sound of a decidedly vintage variety —check out the spirited take on Bill Monroe’s classic “Blue Moon of Kentucky”” — the pacing is decidedly upbeat, and with “Working on the Blues”, “Run Johnny Run”, and “Try” that insurgent attitude comes to the fore.
Ultimately, Merle Jagger manages to emerge to the peak of the pack when it comes to ensuring that barroom bravado remains intact. As the saying goes, it’s all in a name. In this case however, it’s also something more. (By Lee Zimmerman)
Listen and buy the music of Merle Jagger from AMAZON
For more information and purchase options, please visit the Merle Jagger website
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