JD McPherson’s Undivided Heart And Soul

By Brian Rock

The first note of the first song on JD McPherson’s new album, Undivided Heart And Soul, lets you know right away he’s entering a new chapter in his career. With this, his third full length album, McPherson moves away from the brilliant Soul/Rockabilly fusion that defined his first two albums and explores the garage rock sounds of the early sixties.

The first chord of the album’s first track, “Desperate Love,” sounds more like the Cramps than the Champs. Aggressive and menacing, the chord and a vocal growl open the song; letting you know that this album is much heavier than McPherson’s earlier work. The song soon returns to a more harmonic and soulful rhythm, but the arrangement is more layered than his previous work. His core guitar, piano and drums are supplemented with fuzz pedals, Wurlitzers and even vibraphones (an instrument that’s sort of like an electric xylophone.) Beneath it all, McPherson’s soulful voice still shines as he sings, “Desperate love, down on my knees. Flesh, bone and blood; begging you please… I won’t survive this desperate love.”

“Lucky Penny” cranks up the vibraphone again and adds elements of Spencer Davis style British Invasion electric blues to create a hard-hitting tale of hard luck.

Occasionally, as on “Hunting For Sugar,” McPherson reverts to his Soul influences creating a beautiful and atmospheric, Smokey Robinson inspired, ballad as he tenderly sings, “Don’t pass my doorstep if you’re hunting for sugar.”

“On The Lips” is a catchy, power pop ode to a former lover from his memory. But again, McPherson adds additional layers with reverb and odd musical sound effects in the bridge. He creates a surrealistic musical soundscape to mimic the blurry and often disjointed images that memories sometimes provide.

“Crying’s Just A Thing That You Do,” showcases JD’s rockabilly roots. With a driving base and drum rhythm section, the song has a sparser arrangement than others on this album, and consequently McPherson’s expressive voice stands out much more. Although it would have been nice to have heard that voice showcased more often on the album, it is rewarding to hear a musician pushing his limits and experimenting in daring new ways. As long as JD McPherson continues to devote his undivided heart and soul to his music, the results will always be worthwhile.  |  fb  |  buy

Brian Rock

Brian Rock

Brian was raised gypsy style, moving every other year until well after college. As friendships proved to be temporary, Brian found a constant companion in music, wearing the grooves off Beatles and Dylan albums before moving on to Lyle Lovett and Dwight Yokam. Living so often in flux, he has come to value music and lyrics of lasting quality. Not moved by trends or fashion, he is drawn to timeless lyrics and soulful rhythms. Although now settled down, Brian still expresses his gypsy spirit through his writing. He has co-written songs with musician friends he’s met along the way, including several contributions to the 2012 ICMA Album of the Year, Family Album. Brian also writes children’s books and poems, including the Children’s Book Council featured title, The Deductive Detective.
Brian Rock

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