JT & the Clouds

The City's Hot Yeah the City's Hot

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With the release of their debut album, Delilah, JT & the Clouds garnered a good deal of critical acclaim, as well as confusion over what genre they should be assigned to. From Americana folk, country bar rock, rock with soul, and with influences that ranged from Willie Nelson to Jerry Garcia, reviewers were at a loss. This album should prove much less troublesome, being an almost straight forward blues set. There again, no genre stands still, all are constantly evolving, and blues itself has metamorphosed over time into R&B, soul, funk, and, in the rock world, space rock and hard rock. The Clouds showcase virtually all its permutations here, whilst also finding links as far afield as in Afro-beat "Jump Up Jump Up," tango "Lover's Prayer," and Eastern Europe "Mountain Man." Yet this isn't really a revival album, for the Clouds aren't actually resurrecting the sound of the past; instead, like minimalistic artists, they beautifully bring to life the feel of the style with a few deft aural brush strokes. Even their fullest sounding songs, like the wildly infectious, funky, Motown splashed "Wildin' Blues" is relatively sparse. In contrast, the mesmerizing "Corn Liquor" is built around a repeated guitar riff, a bit of drums, and just a touch of keyboards, with the focal point being the vocals. The even more hypnotic "Mountain Man" is similarly constructed, but envelops a gypsy air, a touch of psychedelia, hip-hop, and before it's done, even the trance-like sound of the Velvet Underground, a reflection of just how universal the blues are. The quartet of instrumentals, each highlighting a different instrument, further emphasize this point. The arrangements and musicianship across the set are inspired, and nowhere more amusingly so than on the tongue-in-cheek titled "Clouds Ain't Heavy," a slow as a snail unfolding hard rocker that makes Led Zeppelin sound lightweight, twinned with a hook big enough to land a blue whale and lyrics that spoof the late-'60s songbook. Many of the numbers' lyrics have a touch of irony about them, with the band blurring the line between serious misery and lampoon, pathos and melodrama.

Lead singer Jeremy "JT" Lindsay never gives the game away though, his soulful delivery caressing every line he sings. A stunning vocalist with an amazingly sweet and strong falsetto, and no matter how fabulous the music around him, he inevitably steals the limelight. A superb crooner and an equally powerful soul singer, Lindsay can belt out a lyric or etch it with the delicacy of Venetian glass, whilst evoking Curtis Mayfield one moment and Sly Stone the next.

This is on phenomenal set, filled with strong melodies, and incredibly evocative atmospheres, showcasing the blues in all its glory.

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