Jackie Greene

Gone Wanderin'

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With an unforced comfort unusual among new, young artists on small indie labels, 21-year-old Jackie Greene offered an impressive batch of above-average Americana roots rock on this 2002 release. There's a world-weariness to his songs that might not seem fully earned given his age. But he sounds like he's feeling the emotions authentically enough, with a voice that blends country, rock, folk, and a bit of blues with as much ease as his music does. There's some early Dylan in that mix, and like Dylan, he plays both guitar and harmonica. But he seems like he's having more fun and passion than most budding artists following that path, even if the lyrics talk of hard traveling, dead ends, and hard-luck stories peopled by characters redeemed by their fortitude. In that sense, he can sometimes sound a little like a sweeter-voiced Bruce Springsteen, though one plugged closer to folk sources than Springsteen is. A cut like "Down in the Valley Woe" gets close to the kind of old-time-rooted folk music you might have heard by some of the better early-'60s folk revivalists and singer/songwriters. Yet when he fills out his music with a bigger ensemble, songs like "Cry Yourself Dry" sound much like vintage material by the Band. Like a lot of artists who have generated ballpark comparisons to the aforementioned musicians, Greene had some work to do to establish himself as an original talent on par with those legends. But this was a good start, more assured and enjoyable than plenty of early 21st century Americana-indie rock artists with bigger reputations.

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