The instrumental tracks for Florida-based singer/songwriter Roy Jay's second album, Fairfax Avenue, were recorded at Phantom Vox Studios in Hollywood, CA, and the vocal tracks were recorded at the Tin Ear in Nashville, TN. It seems useful to point this out because, depending on the song, the album sometimes seems to have been recorded at any one of a number of legendary studios, some of which no longer exist. For example, the funky "Love Seed Mama Jump" has the feel of the old Stax Records studio in Memphis, with its Booker T. & the MG's rhythm and punchy horns. "Movin' On," with its deep soul sound, suggests the old Muscle Shoals, AL, studio known for that style. Sometimes, Jay lets his instrumentalists stretch out, suggesting his group has jam band aspirations, so it's not surprising that on "Lose or Win" and "Wrinkle," the musicians sound like they are in San Rafael, CA, in the Grateful Dead's old rehearsal space. And then there's "Coconut Bay," which returns Jay to Florida and sounds like it might have been cut in Key West, with Jimmy Buffett looking on while sipping a margarita. None of this is to suggest that Jay lacks originality. He writes good songs and sings them in a clear light baritone with something of the feel of his fellow Floridian, the late Fred Neil (even if Neil was more of a low baritone). And his backup musicians sound like they've been playing together in bars for years. But they also sound like they've been playing covers for years in bars, and for these original songs, they've only adjusted slightly. So, Fairfax Avenue sounds like an album full of songs you've heard before, even the first time you listen to it.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann